To infinity and beyond! But not without first scaring the wits out of the kids in the process. Toy Story 3 in 3D is a top notch animated thriller posing as a comedy/thematic narrative about love, loss and leaving no one behind. Yet, as in real life, both toys and people do get left behind, including the younger children who would watch this visual feast. Many of the themes will pass right over their heads. But not the scary big baby. No. He will press into their heads. Prepare to be woken up in the middle of the night from your child’s nightmares about a baby toy whose head spins, all Chucky-like. See poster below? Doesn’t it make you just a little unsettled? Now imagine the baby with its head spinning in a theater in 3D. Get the picture?
Don’t misunderstand me. I like the movie. I think it is great! I also think that some sensitive children will have nightmares because of it. Maybe even a few adults. It all works out in the end, of course. But the viewer begins to wonder if this will be so as the story progresses. The film is rated G, which is why I raise concerns about its frightening images of peril, of which there are several throughout the experience. The G rating will attract large audiences of very young children who probably should not yet view the film.
But the storyline connects with the audience. The boy who owns the toys grows up and prepares for college. Naturally his days of playing with toys are done, although he does still feel a private affection for them, especially Woody. As he sorts out his possessions, he intends to put all the toys but Woody into the attic. He stuffs them into an unmarked plastic trash bag and then is promptly distracted to help his sister carry out an item. His mother throws away the bag which is then hauled off to the dump, but not before the toys could escape, thus beginning their real adventure. Woody saw the whole thing from the house and tries to help them understand, but it is too late. They mistakenly believe their owner no longer cares about them, although in reality he grieves their loss when he finds the bag missing. Similarly, his mother grieves his upcoming departure from home. A lot of grieving going on here.
There is more. Much more, really. Toy Story 3 deals with themes of love, friendship, loyalty, loss, betrayal, misunderstanding, and sticking together no matter the cost. It is a dark film with important messages, most of which will elude the youngest audience members. I spoke with one family who said their 4 year old did fine through the movie, although the scariest scene reportedly caused him to hold both hands to either side of his face with his mouth wide open as if in shock. I wonder. Is that a good thing? Use discernment to choose whether or not to have your child view this film.