Toy Story 3: Review

Toy Story 3: You Don't Need to See It

by: ZZUB

Every review I've read of TS3 has been positive. Most of them have been glowing to the point of absurd. No movie is that good.

Yet, despite the title of my post, I didn't dislike TS3. I thought it was good. Very good even. But I could have lived the rest of my life without having seen it and been perfectly content.

One danger in seeing a movie of a book you've read is that they will re-interpret the story in a way that completely destroys the world you've imagined in your head. In my life, I've never seen the movie of a favorite book and thought I was better off for it. In virtually every instance, the movie not only peed on the original source material in some way, but it robbed me of the characters' voices and the images I carried around in my head. Books are wonderful friends and you shouldn't trade them in so quickly.

Movie sequels run a similar risk. In the hands of irresponsible writers and directors, our favorite characters can begin spouting things completely foreign to them. And to us. I happily report that Disney and Pixar didn't do that to the Toy Story box load of characters. Buzz and Woody, Jessie and Ham all continue to demonstrate the same characteristics we grew to love in them.

And Andy doesn't turn into a jackass either.

Indeed, he grows up to be a rather decent guy.

But TS3 takes us to places we need not go. Even if all of the characters we love continue to comport themselves in a manner we're familiar with, the movie takes them on a journey we don't need to watch and deposits them in a place that is foreign to us. For my money, TS2 ended well enough: Buzz and Woody staring off into the future, promising to be friends for infinity and beyond. As it turns out, I didn't need to see what infinity looked like. I rather enjoyed imagining it as something else.

TS3 has moments that are dark and intense. That's not unusual, both Toy Story and TS2 had dark moments. But unlike its predecessors, TS3 imperils our toy friends in a way that is too real, too human, too hard to watch. Indeed, the climax of the movie evoked images of Auschwitz (yes, Auschwitz!). It was easy enough to detach yourself emotionally from the peril of Sid's room in Toy Story because although we can all relate to being lost, few of us can relate to the experience of being subjected to ludicrous transplants. You're not afforded that luxury in TS3. The peril and the emotions are too real, too easy to imagine, and in some instances, too darn close to home.

It's not at all clear which audience they were aiming for either. My three year old did not like it and she has told us many times over. ZZUBY was nonplussed. She liked most of it. But this is telling: she has no immediate desire to see it again.

If I didn't need to see Buzz and Woody confront entirely complex decisions, then I also didn't need to see Andy grown up. Whether we admit it consciously or not, we do become emotionally attached to our favorite characters. Hopefully not in an unhealthy way (says the man who yearns to observe Big Block of Cheese Day). This isn't to suggest that we believe they're actually real or actually our friends. But characters from TV shows we watch at length, characters from movies we've enjoyed multiple times, all become part of the fabric of our subconscious. We feel as if we know them. There's a very rewarding moment in the final episode of Happy Days when Mr. Cunningham, Tom Bosely, breaks the fourth wall and addresses us as the audience. In that moment, he acknowledges that we have grown up watching the Cunninghams and in doing so, he welcomes us to the table, as it were. It is satisfyingly honest.

We first met Andy when he was a little boy and when we saw him again a few years later he was, oddly enough, about the same age as when we last saw him. Seeing him now at 17 is, in a word, uncomfortable. It's as if we moved away and came back to the Tri-County area and the friends we once knew there are similar but different. We feel like we've missed something. Their lives have gone on without us and they've changed. And even though Andy's still a remarkably likable character, it's hard to see him now 11 years on. He's also a touch nerdier than we think he ought to be.

Andy thus has become a metaphor for the passage of time in our own lives. You can't help but remember where you were and what your life was like when you last visited Andy and his toys. You understand, it's not just Andy who's grown 11 years older.

And movies shouldn't age us that way.

For our family, seeing an old, tired Buster was entirely too familiar. It was just another way in which the movie invaded our real life.  It hurt. And stopped being entertaining.

Still, TS3 has some very funny moments and it is riddled with Easter Eggs if you enjoy looking for those kinds of things. It is a good movie and tells a good, even if melancholic, story.

I just wish I hadn't seen it.


  1. I pretty much agree with your review. There were many moments that I laughed out loud, but for the most part I was fighting tears. For the last 20 minutes, I couldn't fight any longer. Both of my daughters (12 and 14) and I were openly crying. I even caught my husband and son (16) shed a few tears. It did hit too close to home with the fact that my son will be leaving for college in a few years. And the climax had my 12yod wanting to leave. I, too, wish I hadn't seen it.

  2. So, in other words, it aint no shrek forever after!

    I agree with the book/movie thing. I can only think of two examples that translated back and forth well, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings 'Nerd Alert'(even if they had to change the onus from elves being too weak to destroy the ring to men from book to movie for PC reasons).

    I have even had a beloved movie destroyed by the book. If you ever want to be depressed, read the Natural. Ughhhh.

    Lastly, why do authors feel like when they have left a character on an upswing, any sequal must take everything away from them (Forrest Gump book, Rocky V movie?)

  3. I think Rocky jumped the shark after Rocky III. Rocky IV was ludicrous and Rocky V was an insult. I never saw Rocky Balboa but I heard it was good. I just couldn't make myself suffer through that again.


  4. I am amazed that you actually WATCHED Rocky IV and V!!! That anyone did, actually. Yes, I stopped (very easily) at III. Have never regretted it.

    I have not yet seen TS3, but want to. Everyone I've spoken to loved it (including my 6 and 7 year old nephew and niece, my 21 yr old niece, and several adults). But I've also heard of many tears being shed (by the adults only). So I'll bring tissues. Though I heard the same thing about UP, and I got through that one fine.

    I usually avoid seeing any movie that was derived from a book I've read and enjoyed. It's a good rule of thumb. I've fallen into the trap several times and regretted it, yet it is still tempting. I think I'd like to see Eat, Pray, Love, for example, even though I suspect I'll be disappointed. I've yet to see Angels & Demons but still consider watching it every time I see it on my "On Demand" menu. I read that book so long ago, I'm thinking I might be able to deal. Oh...and my son recently finished reading Oliver Twist. I soooo loved the musical Oliver! when I was young and I want to find a copy for him to watch, but I have never read the book, and I'm sure the movie will be very very different. It may tick him off.

    Finally, I have one question on the yearning to celebrate big block of cheese day. I'm assuming it's the cheese that intrigues you and NOT the crackpots. Right? If so, I'm on board. Love me a big block o' cheese ;) Crackpots, not so much. Present company excepted.

  5. I tend to think of it as, "Throw Open Our Office Doors To People Who Want To Discuss Things That We Could Care Less About... Day."

    Also, I have a passing interest in UFOs.

    Not really.


  6. I WOULD say that I'd like to celebrate "Big Block of Cheese Day" (God rest John Spencer), but I work at a church and that's pretty much every day here. Without the cheese. With the crazies.

  7. Is the celebration contained to just cheese, or do spreads sneak there way in like they do at the holidays?

    As to Rocky IV, I think you missed out if you didnt see it in the theater. That was at the height of the cold war/anti soviet tensions. People were cheering in the theater as if it were a live sporting event. After Apollo died, had a Marine recruiter entered the theater right then and there most would have marched out to a waiting C130 to exact revenge. The mumbled speach at the end was over the top though. Everyone knows that any soviet caught cheering for Rocky would have been summarily shot.

    Rocky Balboa was good Z, IMO it kind of tells the tale of James J. Braddock (Cinderella Man) who stayed in the old neighborhood in Jersey and despite arthritus wouldnt vacate the title for Joe Louis, making him earn it in the ring instead. (Yep I am a nerd of the highest degree.) Its probably the most believable movie in the series, maybe more so than the original (the fight scenes are definitely more realistic.)

  8. I can't believe you never saw Rocky IV! Good GRIEF, the quotes from that movie ALONE have cracked my family up for years! Family Game Night around the LaLa house is NOTHING until someone's brought the "You vill lose" in the ole Drago monotone.

    We actually saw TS3 at DTD on our trip last week (is it over already?!) and we really liked it. There were some parts that I didn't get and at one particular point I remember thinking "This is a kids movie, for crying out loud. What are they DOING here? Get 'em out of the bind already!" So I can understand what you're saying with it here. The ending was sad and I wanted Andy to turn the car around. But aside from that, we thought it was pretty freakin' funny and really enjoyed seeing all the characters again. Plus having a bunch of fellow Disney geeks around us watching it AT Disneyworld was fun in and of itself. Everyone got the jokes and REALLY showed their appreciation when it was over.

    Almost made me feel like I was watching Rocky IV in the theatre all over again.

    Except I don't think you could ever confuse Woody with Drago. Zurg would be Drago, which would make Buzz Rocky. And Woody Paulie. Jesse would be Adrian.

    I could completely see Woody being drunk and bitter and slightly possessive of Jesse, can't you?

    And there you have it, folks. The scenario for TS4. Coming soon to theatres!


  9. I did see Rocky IV. It sucked. Huge. I didn't see Rocky Balboa.

  10. Well ain't this a big surprise! I disagree with ZZUB!

    I skimmed this review several days ago, but waited to really read it until after I had actually seen the movie. And now I've seen the movie. Like LaLa, our family saw it at DTD. We went this afternoon and sat in a theater with a bunch of fellow Disney lovers who were watching the story unfold on Disney property, probably fat and sassy from a late breakfast at Chef Mickey's just like us. (Or maybe not. Maybe they showed more restraint than I did when faced with all manner of delicious breakfast buffet items and an empty stomach. Oh my, it was sooooo good!)

    But we LOVED TS3. All four of us. I did cry my freakin' eyes out at the end, but I really loved how it ended. It goes without saying that it was cleverly written and full of Disney/Pixar funny just like I expected it to be. The peril at the end was tough to watch. However, not for a minute did I think they would actually die. So while it was tough to watch, I just waited for the Disney rescue that I knew was on the way.

    I've had my share of emotional moments over the last month. Big milestones in my kids' lives tend to make me wolley. And analytical.

    So the reminder that I would feel like Andy's mom, sooner than I wish were the case, DID sting a little bit. It even made my new middle schooler cry, too.

    But we all four walked out of the theater loving how it all ended, and REALLY glad we saw the movie this afternoon. Which is saying something considering we could have been getting our ride on instead.

    I should also note that while I loved TS 1 and 2, those two movies aren't in the top ten of my Disney favorites, so my affection for the characters isn't as strong as someone who has mad love for them. If it were, I would probably have viewed the movies with a different set of emotions.

    La, what's a "theatre"? I thought you were a redneck like me?

  11. Well ain't this a big surprise? NM doesn't know what she's talking about.

    I didn't say it was a bad movie or even that I didn't like it. Here is what I wrote, "Yet, despite the title of my post, I didn't dislike TS3. I thought it was good. Very good even. But I could have lived the rest of my life without having seen it and been perfectly content."

    So I'm not sure who you're disagreeing with. Perhaps the Bean who emphatically announced she didn't like it.

    My impression of the film was that while good, it didn't need to be seen. In that way, it was like the 4th piece of cake I had last weekend. It was good, very good even. But I didn't need to eat it and when it made me feel Thanksgiving full, I wish I hadn't.

    In other words, it is possible to appreciate the inherent value of a film or a food but still recognize it added nothing to your experience and, indeed, may have taken something away.

    My review was meant to convey [u]my[/u] impressions and perhaps serve as a caution for others considering whether to see the movie.


  12. What does this mean?


    If it's some kind of way to bold stuff that didn't work, I need to know how to do it. But I reckon I can't ask you...heh heh.

    I get what you mean, ZZUB. It didn't add to the overall story. But to me it didn't take anything away, either. And you DID title your blog page, "TS3: You DON'T Need to See It." So from that, I gathered that you were overall negative about the movie. And I wasn't. In fact, the NMs want to see it again.

    Perhaps thats just because we were really high on the Disney koolaid when we saw it.

    (And for what it's worth, the NMs have repeated the "Lincoln Logs" line a million times since we saw the movie. That was the dadgum funniest line in the whole thing.)

    But you're right about one thing: I don't have a clue what I'm talking about.

  13. I wish I hadn't seen TS3. It was funny at times, but too heart breaking. My sons (4 and 5) didn't like the scary and dark parts. I couldn't stop the tears from flowing at the part before the claw saved them. Andy grew up to be a wonderful young man (I know he's not real, but they did a good job here). But, I could have done with out seeing the horrible parts. The toys never saw anything but love from Andy, to see them tortured in such a way was awful. I liked parts of this movie, but overall, wish I had skipped it.

    Still love your blog though.