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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Toy Story 3

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Mr. Potato Head, Hamm, Rex, Buzz Lightyear and Slinky Dog appear on the big screen again in "Toy Story 3."
The third time's a charm with "Toy Story 3" (Disney/Pixar), the action-packed sequel to two of the biggest animated films of all time, "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2." Arriving 15 years after the start of the franchise, "Toy Story 3" offers a satisfying and poignant conclusion with valuable lessons on family, friendship, and destiny.

Toy owner Andy (voice of John Morris) is all grown up and heading to college, which means putting away his childish things. This is the moment all toys dread, with only three possible outcomes: storage in the attic, donation to charity, or the garbage pile.

Woody (voice of Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (voice of Tim Allen), and the rest of the "Roundup Gang" wax philosophical as the "warm and safe" attic beckons. "Every toy goes through this," Woody says. "We've survived yard sales and spring cleaning."

Before "Toy Story 3" gets too bogged down in discussing the meaning of plastic life and the destiny of playthings, the action adventure kicks into high gear. Woody is chosen to go to college with Andy, while the other toys, prepped for the attic, are accidentally placed in the trash.

They escape, and joined by a reluctant Woody, spurn Andy and choose the next best option: donation to "Sunnyside," a daycare center which promises the one thing toys desire—to be played with by a loving child.

At first glance, Sunnyside seems like Nirvana, and a warm welcome is offered by the resident toys and their benevolent leader, Lots-O'Huggin Bear (Ned Beatty). "Here there are no 'overs,' no heartache," Lots-O tells the refugees. "We are never abandoned or forgotten. We control our destiny."

Woody is not convinced, and his loyalty to Andy leads him to part company with his friends. But his journey home is cut short, and Woody lands in the arms of a caring child, Bonnie (Emily Hahn). Her home offers even more new toys to play with, including a hilarious porcupine dressed in lederhosen, Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), who fancies himself a classically trained actor slumming among amateurs.

Meanwhile, back at Sunnyside, the rest of the gang savors their peaceable kingdom—until the children arrive. The toddlers are unruly and destructive, and this dream world becomes a nightmare.

Lots-O, moreover, rules with an iron paw, imposing prison-like conditions after hours on the new arrivals. Sunnyside becomes a very dark place, and scenes of toy "torture" (and a rather menacing Big Baby doll) may upset or confuse the smaller ones in the audience.

Taking a page from "The Great Escape," "Toy Story 3" ramps up the action when Woody learns the truth and returns to help his friends. "We're a family. We stay together," he insists.

The journey is perilous, but "Toy Story 3" never forgets its core audience. Good triumphs over evil, and the denouement is heartfelt, hope-filled—and handkerchief-worthy.

Directed by Lee Unkrich ("Finding Nemo") with music, once again, by Randy Newman, "Toy Story 3" is a film for all ages. Parents will appreciate the gag-driven script with plenty of innuendo (the blossoming relationship between the Barbie and Ken dolls steals the show), while kids will delight in all the new characters.

The film contains mild cartoonish violence and scenes of peril. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G—general audiences. All ages admitted.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.


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Angela Merici: Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a “secular institute” of religious women. 
<p>As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood. </p><p>She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals. </p><p>She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost. </p><p>At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death.</p> American Catholic Blog I hear far more people discuss the presence of evil in their lives than they do the supreme power of grace. God is bigger than evil!

 
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