Alright, well not like that... It is G-rated and rightly so (and may I say that there are not enough quality films this year with that rating?) That being the case, Toy Story 3 is one of the more superior movies of 2010 and definitely the best G-rated film so far. What I mean is that I am unsure of how children will react to the movie, besides sitting in awe of the fantastic computer animation and/or mesmerized by the 3D images that they will most assuredly be trying to reach out and grab.
I was ten years old when I saw the original Toy Story in theaters in 1995. When you do the math you see that, well, that was a while ago. Toy Story 2 followed in a few years of its predecessor, but the third has been over a decade in its making. While it is worth the wait for those of us who have seen parts one and two, I don't believe young children will fully understand the foundation on which it is based. Of course, we all own DVD players, so I'm not discounting the possibility that they've been exposed to the original. I just think the very little ones will be lost with the many references to previous characters, events and jokes.
Besides its favoritism to the insiders of the Toy Story club, it has a lot of content that young children may enjoy but not appreciate until much later in their life of film exposure. TS3 makes wonderful references to film noir, 70s disco and prison break movies such as The Great Escape (but see Chicken Run for a more accurate picture of this).
Also, the dramatic sequences of characters in danger are much more serious in nature this time around. All the films have the same plot structure: fun introductory character interactions followed by an unexpected event that launches said characters into new environments where everything is not as it seems in which the situation must be overcome so the toys can get back home... ugh! *gasp for air*
So same formula here, only TS3 is darker and dare I say scarier. Toys are literally imprisoned, put in solitary confinement, and nearly incinerated in a landfill cremator. I'm not seven years old anymore, but I imagine that if flying monkeys gave me nightmares at that age, the thought of lovable teddy bears engulfed in flames might disturb me as well. On a different note, TS3 may also cause a failure of your tear ducts to function normally. If you tend to become sentimentally attached to adorably heart-warming creatures, you may want to bring tissues. Thank God there are no laundry commercials in which Snuggles is faced with near-death experiences, I don't think I could ever recover from the emotional scaring.
That said, TS3 is not objectionable for children in any other regard. It is delightfully entertaining, comical, sweet and filled with visual spectacles worthy of the modern era. The good guys win and the bad guys learn their lesson, and very stylishly might I add. Ken's wardrobe will make any woman wild with envy, and kudos to Pixar for being historically accurate in their Barbie outfits. My Ken doll owned that turquoise sparkled leopard-print button-up too!
Ultimately, you will enjoy this movie more if you have seen the first two, but I would still recommend this for everyone. It is wonderful and the script shines through as particularly well-written and well-loved by its creators. Toy Story obviously holds a special place in the Pixar canon's heart, and they do not fail to deliver everything you could want from Buzz and Woody and the antics in Andy's bedroom toy chest.
Shenandoah Butterworth is Spero's arts and movie critic. She is based in Los Angeles.