Reminding Us How Time Flies, Toy Story 3 Hits Home With College Students Who Watched Original Movies As Kids

If the wait between Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 felt like a gap between generations, it’s because most college students who saw the first two films when they were originally released were still carrying lunchboxes to school.

Toy Story 2 came out in 1999, which means that the elementary school students who enjoyed the movie 11 years ago are now 20-something year old college students. The aging and maturity of viewers can potentially have an adverse effect on movie enjoyment.


But would this lapse in time between the second and third film account for a lack of relevancy — and perhaps an unsatisfying viewing experience — for the 20-somethings who grew up watching the first two films?

The answer is a surprising and resounding no.

Toy Story 3 is as equally splendid as its predecessors. It possesses everything the first two films had, and more. It has the clout to move us emotionally through its snappy and sophisticated script, and it possesses the technical prowess in its visuals to create rich, aesthetic beauty.

Toy Story 3 is brimming with so much feeling, so much depth, that it would be trivial to call the film anything less than a leap forward in modern animation.

Let’s start with the visuals. When the first Toy Story was released, it was widely acclaimed due to its innovative use of motion control. Twenty-seven animators worked on the movie and four hundred computer models were utilized to animate the characters, according to wired.com. To put it simply, in 1995, computer animation had reached a new high.

Fifteen years later, Toy Story 3 has improved visually from the first two films. The colors shine brighter and the characters move with more fluidity than ever. Seeing the film in 3D truly brings out the best of the animations, and it makes one wonder what Pixar has next in store for us next.

But it’s the script that separates Toy Story 3 from the rest of the pack. The story begins with Andy, the owner of the toys. Andy was just a young kid in the first two films, but now he is 17 and about to leave home for college. Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the toys are disheartened, not just because Andy is leaving, but also because the toys haven’t been played with for years.

Andy’s mother tells her son to decide what to do with his toys before leaving for college. Andy decides to take Woody to college and leave the other toys in the attic, putting them in a plastic bag. But when Andy’s mother mistakes his toys for trash, she takes the bag to the side of the road to be picked up by garbage men. The toys, wrongly believing that Andy meant to throw them away, escape to daycare by sneaking into the mother’s truck.

Woody finds the toys and tries to correct the misunderstanding, but before he can, Andy’s mother enters the car, and Woody is forced to go with the toys to daycare. Toy Story 3 centers around the toys’ experience with Sunnyside Daycare.

Toy Story 3 deals with so many emotional themes that it will stir-up the hearts of nearly every viewer. At times the film dwells on abandonment, innocence, rejection and growing up with such intensity that more mature viewers may forget it’s a children’s film. A prime example of this would be Woody’s allegiance to Andy conflicting with the other toys’ feelings of rejection because Andy hasn’t played with them for so many years. And when one toy from Sunnyside Daycare is discovered to have turned evil because his previous owner replaced him, the audience will sympathize with the toy’s trauma.
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Thankfully, however, the writers of Pixar are never short on comic relief, making the script more lighthearted for children by implementing silly slapstick humor and the occasional potty joke. Michael Keaton, playing the doll Ken, breathes new life into the film, as his interactions with Barbie offer some of the funniest moments of the movie. Don Rickles, 84, hasn’t lost his touch as the wisecracking Mr. Potato Head, as his snide, sarcastic remarks always guarantee a chuckle from the audience.

In brief, Toy Story 3 is an exhilarating conclusion to a masterful trilogy, and will stand not only as one of Pixar’s defining achievements, but also as one of the finest animations in recent memory. It’s one of the few trilogies to have three movies that truly compliment each other effectively.

In the words of Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story 3 will take viewers of any age “to infinity and beyond,” and embark them on a journey they will never forget.