Of Pixar’s first 11 features, nine were gleaming originals. The two sequels: Toy Story 2, in 1999, and this splendid apex of the trilogy, directed by Lee Unkrich and scripted by Michael Arndt. The boy Andy is now ready for college, and his toys, which he hasn’t played with for years, are mistakenly thrown out. They find refuge in Sunnyside Day Care, which has kids galore — no toy left behind — and new friends, including Lotso (Ned Beatty), a folksy stuffed bear with a strawberry scent. If only the 2-year-olds to whom Buzz and the rest are assigned as playthings weren’t such violent little beasts. If only Lotso didn’t have a hidden agenda. If only the toys from the first two films didn’t have to attempt a great escape that leads to a horrifying holocaust. Unkrich called it “taking toys to their endgame.”
The scariest, life-threateningest Pixar movie is also a powerful fable about needy wage slaves being wedded to their servitude because it creates a sense of community more liberating than freedom. Toy Story 3 teaches morals of holding and sharing, and personal responsibility to the greater social good. But the movie’s most important lesson is for Hollywood: Watch this and see how it’s done.
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