US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Toy Story 3

By Patrick McCormick | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Directed by Lee Unkrich (Disney/Pixar, 2010)

In the third chapter of Pixar's saga about a boy's toys, the plastic and wooden playthings that fill their owner's toybox face the sad reality that their child-owner has grown up and is heading to college, and they are about to be kicked to the curb like a pair of empty-nester parents.

This funny, endearing, and surprisingly moving tale told on the cusp of a child leaving home for college is full of sweet memories, riotous laughter, and teary partings, but it also wrestles not too indirectly with the often heartbreaking parental struggle between holding on and letting go, and with the unwelcome specter of aging and death.

The film opens with a rollicking and joyous flashback plunging us into the Technicolor imagination of a 5-year-old at play with the toys that have come to life in his hands, but we soon discover that this clip is a memory held by the toys, while their teenage owner has almost completely forgotten the pleasures of child's play.

When his mom tells college-bound Andy to bag up his toys for the attic, trash, or the local day care center, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), the Potato Heads (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Rex (Wallace Shawn), and the other toys realize their usefulness-and playfulness-is at an end. They are to be retired into musty storage, tossed curbside, or recycled.

And so through a series of errors and misadventures more exciting, funny, and perilous than any of their imaginary play with young Andy, Woody, Buzz, and the gang set off on a quest for a new home and childhood. Nearly gobbled in the belly of a garbage truck, mauled by a hurricane of day-care kiddies, and tossed into a recycling incinerator rivaling Dante's inferno, they finally manage to find a young girl whose home, heart, and imagination has room for them all, and so begin again the process of loving and entertaining children.

This article appeared in the September 2010 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 75, No. 9, page 42).