Woody the cowboy (voiced by Tom Hanks) is in hot pursuit of the outlaw One Eyed Bart (Don Rickles), and he thinks he caught him on this moving train until Bart's wife (Estelle Harris) joins him and Woody falls from the carriage - onto the horse of Jessie the cowgirl (Joan Cusack). Unfortunately Bart has rigged the bridge up ahead with explosives which he sets off, sending the passengers into potential doom as he drives off in his sports car, and Woody isn't able to stop it - but his buddy Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) is, thanks to his strength and power of flight, and then...
And then the little boy dreaming all this up as he plays with his toys gets older, and puts those toys away, which is where we enter the story in this, the third of the Toy Story movies, and the biggest hit its studio Pixar ever had. They tend to bring out the obsessive in animation fans, as their parent company Disney often does, and with this entry you could see why as from many angles it was their masterpiece, so appropriate in light of this series of films being the ones which truly made their names as the most skilled purveyors of computer animation around. It wasn't simply the exquisite visuals: these characters were ones audiences could respond to emotionally.
Therefore Toy Story 3 got the reputation as the movie from 2010 that it was impossible not to cry at, with cinemas full of people discreetly wiping away tears at the predicament of Woody and Buzz and their friends as they reach the stage that everyone, not only toys, get to: obsolescence. Andy, their owner, no longer plays with them and now is off to college, so his mother (Laurie Metcalfe) tells him firmly to clear his room, and that includes the toys who have been yearning for him to notice them and at least give them one more adventure for old time's sake. Naturally, with Andy far too old for any of that, they are going to be disappointed, yet he still feels that attachment to them.
So he decides not to throw them out and puts them in the attic instead. Or that's the idea, but the bag full of toys winds up being thrown out by mistake, something Woody knows but cannot persuade the others about, as they all are let down in their perceived rejection by their oldest friend. Thinking they're not going to stay where they're not wanted, off they go to the local daycare center, as all the while Woody reacts not unlike Captain Kirk in one of those old Star Trek episodes where he tries to convince his crew this is no paradise they have ended up in, but some kind of prison. Prison is very much the motif for the daycare scenes, and you can't have too many prison movies without the inevitable break out scene - here there are two.
Our heroes are trapped with the toddlers as age inappropriate toys in their nursery, but the menacing Lotso bear (Ned Beatty) is intent on keeping them where they are as sacrifices while he and his henchmen lord it over them with the older kids. As with all these works, the realms of fantasy are considered, with the idea that dreams can become delusions to the fore, and delusions turn to nightmares. Really, this entry went to some particularly sombre places, and the effect of putting these silly characters in situations where they have to face their mortality and the realisation that they will not be useful forever, and might indeed be forgotten, exerts quite a pull on the heartstrings. The incinerator sequence is an incredibly brave one, but luckily instead of leaving us depressed the Pixar folks left us contemplative, which can put a lump in the throat but also assured us we were in as safe hands as the toys were. Still, with such observations on the passing of childhood paramount, of which these films are a part, it's apt that they should work such magic on so many: laughter, tears, it was all here. Music by Randy Newman.