Toys destined for the attic instead find themselves trapped at a children's daycare center and must devise an escape. The Disney release of the 3-D feature by Pixar Animation Studios (and the top-grossing movie of 2010) was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won two.
By CBS News.com producer David Morgan
"Toy Story 3" completes a trilogy of films that debuted in 1995 with the first completely computer-animated feature film. The adventures of Woody (the favorite toy of a young boy, Andy) and his fellow toys were both whimsical and touching tales of childhood imagination, friendship and loyalty.
Tom Hanks returns to provide the voice for the earnest Sheriff Woody. In addition to "Toy Story" vets Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles and Wallace Shawn, newcomers to the cast include Ned Beatty as Lotso, Michael Keaton as Ken ("I'm NOT a girl's toy!"), Whoopi Goldberg as Stretch the Octopus, "Flight of the Conchords"' Kristen Schaal as Trixie, and former James Bond Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants.
"Toy Story 3" finds Andy now grown up and about to leave home for college. This separation means his possessions are headed for the attic.
Unsure about their future now that the 17-year-old doesn't spend time with them any more, the toys are told by Woody that they must continue their role - being there for Andy - as they prepare for "attic mode." Or, worse, trash bags.
WOODY: Look, every toy goes through this! No one wants to see their kid leave!
REX: Oh, I hate all this uncertainty ...!"
A misunderstanding sends the bag of toys to the curbside to be taken away as garbage. ("This is no time to be hysterical." "It's the PERFECT time to be hysterical!") After freeing themselves, the dejected toys decide to stow away in a box headed for a daycare center, despite Woody's characterization of daycare as "a sad, lonely place for washed-up old toys who have no owners."
The others refuse to believe that Andy planned to keep them, and await their new home.
The initial signals - bright, cheery colors; laughing children - portend a happy destination.
... And the toys are indeed greeted warmly by the current toy/residents, who eagerly welcome the newcomers. They are led by the large, pink Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear. "But, please, call me Lotso!"
Lotso tells the new arrivals that all the toys at Sunnyside are cast-offs. "We been dumped, donated, yard-saled, second-handed, and just plain thrown out. But just you wait - you'll find being donated was the best thing that ever happened to ya!" The toys are pleased to hear that they get played with every day, all day long. And when the kids grow up, new kids take their place. "You'll never be outgrown or neglected. Never abandoned or forgotten. No owners means no heartbreak."
You'll also make friends, as Barbie does with Ken.
BARBIE: Have we ever me--...
KEN: Huh-uh...! I would've remembered! Love your leg warmers.
BARBIE: Nice ascot.
Calling the other toys selfish, Woody leaves, alone, to return to the attic, to be there for Andy, as the others await the children's return.
Unfortunately, the toys have been assigned to a room for toddlers whose concept of toy is something that is smashed, squeezed, trod on, thrown, dirtied, inserted in orifices and otherwise manhandled in ways no toy should ever have to witness.
When Buzz sneaks up to a private party of some of the older kids' toys, he is taken prisoner and re-set to DEMO mode - effectively making him a pawn to Lotso, who rules the other toys at Sunnyside with an iron fist and a cohort of lackeys.
Woody, meanwhile, has found himself taken to the home of Bonnie, and is introduced to her toys. Bonnie has an extremely over-active imagination and her toys are impressed by Woody and his toy-playing skills. But he insists that he just wants to get home to Andy.
But Woody is horrified to hear the story of how Lotso came to rule Sunnyside after being replaced by his owner, Daisy. Chuckles the Clown tells how he managed to escape the daycare center. "Other toys . . . they weren't so lucky." Now Woody must get back to Sunnyside and help his friends escape.
Sneaking into Sunnyside, Woody conjures a breakout plan that recalls movie classics like "The Great Escape."
But they must contend with Lotso and his henchman, Big Baby - and with an approaching garbage truck.
One of the most moving scenes of "Toy Story 3" is when the toys hold hands as they face the inevitability of their demise within a garbage dump's furnace - one of the cinema's most affecting depictions of mortality. It is to the great credit of Pixar's writers, directors and animators (and to the vocal talents employed) that audiences could come to care so much about what are essentially characters of plastic drawn on computers.
"Toy Story 3" captures the life changes that occur when young adults shed the comforting tokens of their imaginary worlds. By passing on his toys to Bonnie, Andy preserves the powerful hold they have on his imagination, even as he puts his childhood behind him.
They will continue to be as real as what exists in his memories - and to be sure, that reality will be perpetuated in Bonnie's imagination.
But just as the film depicts young adults letting go of childhood, it also mimics the emotional tug of parents letting go of their children. Woody and the others feel tremendous responsibility and loyalty to their "kid" - and while their job has been to "always be there for him," Andy's departure represents their own empty nest syndrome. The toys' job (at least with regards to Andy) is now done.
Still, the joyous scenes under the end credits - in which the toys party on - offer a slightly disturbing message. As important as it is for the toys to engage in play with their owners to feel fulfilled, it's quite clear that they're more than capable of having fun when people aren't around - maybe more so.
The truth is, they don't need us!
The original "Toy Story" won a special Academy Award as the first computer-generated feature-length film, and received three other Oscar nominations. Its sequel, "Toy Story 2," won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. To continue the story in its third incarnation, Pixar regrouped many of the creators of the first two films, adding to the mix screenwriter Michael Arndt, an Oscar winner for his original script for another rite-of-passage comedy, "Little Miss Sunshine."
For the look of the film, production designer Bob Pauley did research not only into toy stores and daycare centers but also Alcatraz, to get a sense of prison life. "We even went to a huge landfill location with a giant incinerator to get some visual references for the film's climactic ending," he said. "With the 'Toy Story' movies, we have always tried to create a world that is believable, but not real."
Key to the film's development was a memory of director Lee Unkrich in which he had accidentally thrown out his wife's collection of stuffed animals during a move. "I couldn't understand why she had put them in a garbage bag [instead of a box], and she couldn't understand why I didn't check to see what I was throwing away," he said. "After all these years, she still won't let me forget that I threw out all of her beloved stuffed animals." He likes to think that, with its incorporation as a major plot point in "Toy Story 3," their demise at the landfill was not in vain.
Composer Randy Newman, who has received 20 Oscar nominations and won an Academy Award for Best Song ("If I Didn't Have You" from "Monsters, Inc."), won his second award for the "Toy Story 3" song, "We Belong Together."
When asked what he hopes to achieve next, Newman replied, "Well, I would like to still get better, you know? What I have been doing since I was 15 is writing songs and making records. There's a lot of evidence that people do their best work before they're 25, you know? These pants are 25! And my last record I thought was good and not inferior to anything I've done. I like to get better at that, at what I am doing. And writing music is difficult, I find. Tthere's a lot of challenges to it just inherent in the field. It's just not easy for me."
When asked advice for young people who might want to break into the music business today, Newman said, "Who would want to break into it? It's like a bank that's already been robbed!"
After accepting the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, Lee Unkrich told reporters that directing the film felt like "a huge, crushing responsibility" after the success of the first two "Toy Story" films. "I like to call it 'fear-based filmmaking,' because each and every day we kind of lived in fear of messing it up, and then it was up to us to make the best movie that we possibly could. Not only were we having to make the next Pixar film which is a huge responsibility in and of itself, but to make a third ['Toy Story'], when third films are always terrible, right? They're never, ever good! And somehow I guess we're masochistic; we thought we could somehow pull it off. And does this mean we did? I guess, finally!"
When asked if the Best Picture nominations for "Toy Story 3" (and last year's for "Up") meant the Academy was becoming more accepting of animation, Unkrich said, "I do. I think the fact that two years running now we have had animated films that have made it and received Best Picture nominations show that the walls between live action and animation are becoming a bit more permeable. I think we have a ways to go, but I think the fact that we made it into that category twice now, we have accomplished something.
"Hopefully, eventually people will just vote with their heart and if they truly think that a film moved them the most or excited them the most and it happens to be animated, that someday an animated film could win Best Picture."