Toy Story 3 (U)

5.00

Let's hear it for the toys

Is Pixar the saviour of family entertainment? It's hard to know how else to describe a studio that consistently knocks all competitors into a cocked stetson. It takes a kind of genius to combine a children's movie for grown-ups and a grown-up's movie for children in one glittering digimated package, yet the folks at Pixar have done it time and again. If they had only made Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Wall• E, and Up it would be a staggering achievement. But that doesn't take account of its star player, Toy Story, spearhead and prince among movies, returning here for a third and probably final go-round. It is the film of this summer – of any summer.

Its U certificate belies the fact that Toy Story 3 is a meditation on ageing, impermanence and mortality. Yet it's also a dizzyingly funny romp that honours and extends the glorious invention of the first two films. With more than a decade gone since Toy Story 2, the filmmakers (John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and the director Lee Unkrich) have pushed cowboy Woody, space ranger Buzz and the rest of the toys towards a crisis of transition: their owner, Andy, has outgrown them, and is now about to leave home for college. Will they be packed off to the limbo of the attic or, worse, flung into a black bin bag for the trash collection? (The toy soldiers have already scarpered). "Oh, this is just sad," says Mr Potato Head, and you'd have to agree. After various misadventures the toys fetch up in Sunnyside, a children's day-care centre, where a huggy bear named Lotso (voiced by Ned Beatty) is the apparently benign steward: "No owners means no heartbreak," he says, though he omits to mention the marauding toddlers that will kick, chew and drool over them. Too late do they twig that they're locked up in a place of "ruin and despair" – the toytown equivalent of Alcatraz.

The scriptwriter Michael Arndt (who wrote Little Miss Sunshine) gets full value from the old favourites, turning Buzz at one stage back into a deluded martinet and later into a flamenco-dancing Latin lothario with the hots for cowgirl Jessie. But he also has fun with new characters such as preening clothes-horse Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton) and his Barbie; Lotso's prison enforcer Big Baby (with a sinister eye droop); a Monkey watchguard with clashing cymbals and a hedgehog, Mr Pricklepants, who fancies himself a thespian. The drollery is in the detail, which sometimes comes so fast it's gone before you have time to chortle. I loved the moment Buzz, anticipating the stampede of terrible tots, smoothly flips up his spaceman visor for protection. And I sniggered at the scene in which Woody, trapped in a toilet cubicle, puts a square of bog roll on the seat before he climbs on to it and makes good his escape through the window. Hardly a sequence goes by without something that delights, or exhilarates, or amuses.

Or indeed provokes to wistfulness. The first and second Toy Story movies dealt with setbacks that could be put right. As the producer John Lasseter says, "When you're broken, you can be fixed; when you're lost, you can be found; when you're stolen, you can be recovered. But there's no way to fix being outgrown by the child." What the film does so beautifully is to twist the existential crisis of a toy into a reckoning of our younger selves. It understands how we attach fond significance to those things that have been mute companions – and witnesses – through the years, and have measured our lost time. It is a poignancy that gathers such force by the end that my eyes, already moistened at the edges, started brimming helplessly. Discarding my 3-D specs I fled the cinema via the echoing stairwell of the emergency exit, hoping to hide my face away. "You're a grown man crying over a film about toys," I chided myself. But oh, what a film; what toys.

Have you seen Toy Story 3? Our Culture Club is looking for short reader reviews for the paper - leave your thoughts below

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all