Toy Story 3
Fifteen years after ushering in a new era of CGI animation, and 11 years after a colossally successful premillennial sequel, the Toy Story franchise returns to a changed world. Its irresistible conceit and snappy good humor largely remain intact, though now it also hauls a saltier and more anxious sensibility. Inanimate figurines don’t age, but they do get nicked and discarded, and that tension between immortality and irrelevance remains the central conflict in Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 3. Andy is all grown up and about to drive off to college, leaving the fate of his toys uncertain. Will they be stored in the attic, left on the curb for sanitation pickup, or delivered to the local day-care center? All of the above, it turns out, as the whole gang gets caught in an odyssey of compounded indignities. Fears of the unknown, of neglect and abuse, are gradually eclipsed by the threat of disposal. Identifying with plastic figures has always been essential to the series’ playfully perverse, aptly adolescent allure, but here, that empathy mutates into macabre existentialist dread. In how many kids’ movies are the protagonists led to the precipice of a flaming pit of hell?