Craft IV

film 3 of 3

Toy Story 3

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 26, 2015

Are they, in that action packed opening sequence, succumbing to the mostly noisy inflation of current children’s media? They are not. “The orphans!” This over-stimulating sequence resolves wonderfully into another instance of imaginative play, with which this series started, and which the trilogy ends up treating pretty comprehensively. That is because of the way that Andy passes the torch to Bonnie at the end. It is also, more (this is Pixar) because of the way that an imaginative, loving adult can also serve children by scaffolding in the ways these movies do. This is how to imagine. This is how to design or illustrate or direct your imagination. These are the moral implications and possibilities, and this is how you and I should live together, in righteousness and love.

Pixar is so good, sometimes, that you almost resent it. There’s never a misstep. Of course they completely planted that impossible rescue at the end, and as a consequence they utterly get away with it. All of this commercial virtuosity would start to be boring, mere crafty perfection, if it weren’t for something that immediately precedes the rescue. “Buzz, what’ll we do?” asks Jessie, in a faithful agony. Buzz looks here, there, and everywhere. Then we realize that he realizes—the facial expressions that they contrive! After all of their infinite resourcefulness and boundless fraternity, it one day comes down to the humbling, horrifying, R-rated fact that sometimes there is nothing more to be done.

10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.

11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.

12 Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also…

They reach out, join hands, and await the apocalypse. Until the toy Martians show up. There’s ample craft here, lots of expert comedy, narrative architecture, characterization. But it’s this last, and other direnesses besides—the daycare’s fascist society, kind of out of Watership Down, the Toy Story 2 stuff about parental obsolescence—that look to have deepened the trilogy to the level and status of myth, or archetype, or ancient folk tale. The child is reassured, but she isn’t reassured too much. Man, and toy, are born to trouble, as the sparks fly upwards.

And here’s to Woody’s faithfulness, sacrifice, and moral agility. The resolution of their impossible plot dilemma is all sentiment, no sentimentality. It contains the wise reality of kids and adults interacting. Each stage is precious, it passes so quickly, and contrary to so much kid-culture-conversation, it is good to grow up. Why? Because when you do, you can oversee and caretake each precious stage of your own offspring. And on, and Malachi 4: 5-6.