Toy Story 3 at the Edinburgh film festival

Disney-Pixar's latest has a malign, strawberry-scented teddy and a sad, even class-conscious edge that lifts it into the profound

Fifteen years ago, the first Toy Story movie promised cinemagoers a revolution in animation, the hyper-clarity of its computer images rendering traditional cartoons obsolete at the click of a mouse button. Since then, with the wow factor reduced by years of exposure, and even 3D cartoons now a run-of-the-mill school holiday cinema trip away, Disney-Pixar has had to learn a new but immensely old-fashioned trick to stay ahead of its rival animators: draping its movies – notably Up and Wall E – in a velvet sadness that makes them far more resonant and profound than anything from its competitors.

  1. Toy Story 3 3D
  2. Production year: 2010
  3. Country: USA
  4. Directors: Lee Unkrich
  5. Cast: Don Rickles, Joan Cusack, John Ratzenberger, Laurie Metcalf, Michael Keaton, R Lee Ermey, Tim Allen, Timothy Dalton, Tom Hanks, Wallace Shawn

Toy Story 3, then, is the third movie in the studio's weepie trilogy. The toys' owner, Andy, is now grown to the cusp of adulthood, and off to college any minute, and he must decide what to do with his old playmates. Woody the cowboy, he decides, is to make the journey with him – perhaps to be one of those novelty, "look at me" room decorations – but the other toys are piled into a bin bag, seemingly destined for landfill.

Woody tries to rescue them and he – and they – find themselves delivered to a nursery where, it seems, they will be able to see out their lives being loved and cherished and played with. But the nursery is not all it seems – in fact, it's a toy version of General Woundwort's evil rabbit warren in Watership Down, ruled mercilessly by an embittered strawberry-scented teddy named Lotsa, aided by a broken-eyed baby doll, a craven Ken (who cares only for the contents of his dream home), and a cymbal-clapping monkey who monitors the CCTV when the nursery's human inhabitants have gone home.

There's a creepy, malignant edge to these sequences, in which toys who've suffered rejection by their owners are portrayed as cynical and calculating: they're like feral street toys, compared to the comfortable, cossetted – dare one say middle-class? – toys who've spent decades in one family.

Naturally, the toys escape – there's funny business from the astronaut toy Buzz Lightyear, whose programme settings have been reconfigured by Lotsa, and who keeps speaking Spanish – and make their way back home to Andy, for a huge, tearjerking emotional payoff. What are toys, the ending asks us. Are they parts of our individual pasts, which atrophy as we change and grow, but which can be reanimated if we can rekindle the spark of childhood? Or are they arks of innocence, with their own power to generate a domestic kind of magic?

The answer, of course, is they are just toys. But such is the simple emotional power of Disney-Pixar's work under John Lasseter (who co-wrote the movie with Michael Arndt, whose only previous credit is the script for Little Miss Sunshine), that strawberry-scented teddy bears will never seem benevolent again.

benevolent : łaskawy, życzliwy

cherish : pielęgnować, troszczyć się o

cosset : rozpieszczać

craven : bojaźliwy; nikczemny

drape : przystrajać

embittered : rozgoryczony

malign : szkodliwy, wrogi

obsolete : staromodny

rekindle : ożywiać, wzniecać

render : odtwarzać

the cusp of adulthood : próg dorosłości

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