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Toy Story 3 (2010) -vs- Toy Story 2 (1999)

Toy Story 3 -vs- Toy Story 2

Sherry CobenThe Smackdown

If you know me at all well, you know how present my inner child is and how much room she takes up in my house. She’s a hoarder, and I indulge her whims more than I probably should. My daughters too tend to save and preserve and curate more than most; all our childhoods are celebrated in the kind of comprehensive photography and detail usually reserved for heads of state, the documentation and nostalgia extensive and almost creepily thorough. We are all natural born collectors, and the resultant much of a muchness terrifies some visitors. Needless to say, the concepts of moving on, of growing up and letting go, of thinning the herd, strike fear into our hearts. I offer up this snippet of autobiographical psychobabble in explanation; suffice it to say that the Toy Story franchise hits me where I live, and hits me hard.

The Challenger

Andy is headed off to college, and his mother wants his room emptied of childhood things before he leaves. He’s offered four sorting options only — attic, college, trash, and donation. His childhood
toys are attic-bound with the exception of Woody, who’s set aside, selected for dorm decoration, touchstone, and talisman. Through a series of heartbreakingly unfortunate events, the beloved toys are mistakenly discarded, then donated. Forced to make yet another Great Escape, this one is their finest hour; their rivalries have mostly been resolved, leaving only trust and seamless cooperation thrilling to behold. Along the way, the film wrestles with many of life’s heavy-duty issues colorfully disguised and handled with a feather light touch. Sentimental in the very best sense of the word, nostalgic and fresh, this funny, beautiful, evocative and moving rumination on usefulness and need, dependency and freedom, love and loyalty, had me in tears throughout.

The Defending Champion

Leave it to Pixar to bring a fresh take to their breakthrough first entry in the franchise; the second outing explored the origin story and indulged in a worldly wise exploration and expose of the dark side of nostalgia and commerce, adult toy collecting and dealing. Daring escapes and rescues are the linchpin of the series; the boundless imagination of children inspires the animators and screenwriters to expand the possibilities of play. The organic extension of pretend and our willingness to suspend any disbelief provide endless delights. As a child, I believed my toys shared a completely full and separate life that occurred in my absence or during my sleep. Perhaps the film’s true magic lies not in suspending disbelief but rather in extending that simple and universal childhood belief that our toys are alive, that the toys we call our own love us back.

The Scorecard

The bad guys in both films are the least interesting part; they raise the stakes and provide the incentive for most of the action. That said, the infinite ingenuity (To Infinity and Beyond Indeed) and genuine teamwork are the real points of the exercise. Love abides, and selfless devotion overrides risk.

In TS2‘s emotional highlight, Sarah McLachlan sings of Jessie’s abandonment by her owner Emily; just hearing the first few notes of that song instantly reduces me to a puddle. Toy Story 3 fulfills, sustains, and tops the promise of that peak moment for most of its running time; all toys outlive their usefulness, and the question of what happens next keeps us absolutely spellbound and ferklempt. In my day, I’ve seen plenty of action movies; with the exception of The Great Escape, few sequences have gripped me in suspense as tightly as did the landfill section of TS3. I really cared
about the characters and their uncertain fates, an unusual feeling for me in any action movie, made even more unusual given the fact that the characters are animated and toys.

The Decision

They took eleven years to come up with an entry worthy of the “Toy Story 3” title. Eleven years well spent, Pixar. Another instant classic: Toy Story 3. Run. Don’t walk. And bring Kleenex.


About Sherry Coben 77 Articles
A comedy writer who created the 1980s hit show Kate & Allie, Sherry Coben — tired of malingering in development hell — has enjoyed coaching a high school ComedySportz team in SoCal, making a no-budget, high-ambition webisode series, and biting the hand that feeds her.

9 Comments on Toy Story 3 (2010) -vs- Toy Story 2 (1999)

  1. I did a little searching for this topic after we posted our review. Very well written. Although I’m more partial to number 2, you bring up most of the same great points my counterpart did about number 3.

    If you don’t mind self-promotion please check out our review here:

  2. I LOVE Toy Story 2; I grew up with it and I’ve seen it a bajillion times, like the original. However, Toy Story 3 definitely outdoes it for me. For years, people have talked about Jessie’s song as being the emotional highlight in the franchise, and they were right (although I also got emotional during the scene where Buzz tried to convince Woody to come back to Andy). However, Toy Story 3 as an entire film equals (and perhaps surpasses) that sequence, simply because it is now actually happening to Woody, Buzz, and all the other beloved toys.
    This movie had it all: great story, characters, action, humor, emotional depth. I was thoroughly happy and satisfied after seeing it, especially having grown up with the first two films. The incinerator scene, as well as the “claw” aftermath” gives me goosebumps, and they are my favorite parts of the film.
    I love all 3 films pretty much equally, with the first one (currently) being my favorite. However, if it’s Toy Story 2 vs. Toy Story 3, Toy Story 3 takes the cake for me.

  3. American Girl Felicity stuffed in a box with Madeline. Berenstain Bears books sharing storage space with the entire works of Dr. Seuss. Yes, although it saddens us to tears, we (parents) are not blameless in all this growing up, getting rid of, and moving on. Like Andy’s Mom, we’ve not only helped facilitate it, we’ve even insisted on it. And why? I’ll tell you why: Because we’ve made a deal with the Devil. Please, if she abandons something from her childhood, don’t let it be me. Let it be the toys. I’ll sell out the stuffed Arthur dolls and replica show horses, as long as she doesn’t put me in the ‘donate’ box. I’ll turn her white, black and hispanic Barbies in faster than Nazi sympathizers turned in music teachers if she’ll just include me out of the rejection process.
    That bereft, grief-stricken, but half-guilty look that Andy’s Mom is struck with just before he walks out the door is brilliant, and speaks volumes.

  4. Another very good review, Sherry. I agree with your assessments of the film. Action and/or superhero movies tend to leave me cold but movies like Toy story have a lot of heart and humor, which is all I ask from a movie. I really hope this review will make more people see this movie..

  5. Oh cant wait to watch this movie!! Great post i love reading it!
    And very nice photos! Thanks for sharing it!

  6. It’s a great film. Great.

  7. Thanks, Josh.

  8. I completely agree with your review. Being a child when Toy Story came out and following the movies to where I am/they are now, I developed a relationship with the characters, as most of us had. This movie was an amazing pay off for the years I followed Woody and Buzz. That said, this was by far the most entertaining movie I’ve seen in a long time. Even the credits had more plot than most action movies these days. Wonderful review, and I will be sure to keep on reading what you write!

  9. I have never cried as much in any movie as I cried during Toy Story 3. This seems like the shortest of all your reviews because it’s so simple and to the point. I agree wholeheartedly with your review. Bravo.

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