There's a palpable weariness in the movie theater as the latest addition to the Toy Story franchise draws to a close and it's not just because of the struggle with young children who got bored after the first sighting of the familiar gang. The film's conclusion suggests further stories and frankly, the whole if-toys-could-talk routine is getting a little old.
This time, Andy is all grown up and going to college. The toys get donated to a day care center by mistake and they must come up with an elaborate plan to get home. There is laughter and there are tears, but there are only so many times one can find Mr. Potato Head losing his limbs funny, or Woody contemplating the scrawled name on the sole of his cowboy boot sad.
Pixar makes all the right moves and although we can't not shed a tear as the gang hurtles towards one tragedy after another, it can make a woman feel downright manipulated when she knows that it's like pushing Buzz's buttons or pulling Woody's string - just a programmed response to a smooth operation.
A new group of toys belonging to an imaginative little girl enrolled in day care provides a much-needed spark. Settled around a plastic picnic table with a dramatic hedgehog and a serious unicorn, a stegosaurus named Trixie explains to their guest, Woody, that the set-up might signify "a café in Paris or a coffee shop in New Jersey," and goes on - "I'm pretty sure I just came back from the doctor with life-changing news. We do a lot of improv here. Just stay loose... "
It's a shame Pixar didn't listen to the dinosaur and take its own advice.
Toy Story 3
Directed by Lee Unkrich
Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen,