Toy Story 3 went Ham(m) on all our hearts—and made a fortune doing it
7 min read
fairly easy
It took a whole lot of corporate machinations before Toy Story 3 could mess around with people's feelings on that level. The movie had to deliver, and that's what it did.
The Popcorn Champs The Popcorn Champs looks back at the highest grossing movie in America from every year since 1960. In tracing the evolution of blockbuster cinema, maybe we can answer a question Hollywood has been asking itself for more than a century: What do people want to see?


I must've known that all the toys weren't about to die. I had to know. This was a G-rated kids' movie, the third entry in a beloved franchise. Movies like that generally don't end with their heroes being reduced to puddles of toxic-smelling goo. And yet Toy Story 3 got me. Sitting in the theater, holding a toddler who didn't yet understand anything except that the big baby was scary, I was completely caught up in the idea that Woody and Buzz and all the others were about to meet their ultimate destinations in a nightmarish molten garbage pit. My rational mind no longer functioned. I was all emotion.

Toy Story 3, like so many Pixar films, preys on your emotions. If you start thinking too hard, you might start asking difficult questions. For instance: Can a toy die? What does it mean to die if you don't have any biological functions in the first place? When your detached body parts can operate independently of one another, is death itself merely a construct? Will all your immolated atoms go on to lives of their own? And will those atoms live out their lives hoping that children will play with them? Children can't play with atoms. Are those atoms then sentenced to a hell of eternal frustration?

Toy Story 3 won't let you ponder those questions because it's too busy power-bombing your inner child through a flaming table. In the film's climactic scene, the one where the toys are all sliding downward toward doom, these inexplicable sentient beings all exhibit absolute dignity and absolute love. They wordlessly accept what's about to happen, holding plastic hands and giving one another whatever comfort they can offer. We'd all be lucky to go out like that, and the beauty of th…
Tom Breihan
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