Bethany Sanders: Hot, muggy weather found us detouring our Father's Day plans to the cool darkness of the movie theater last night, where we took the kids to see "Toy Story 3." Having already seen "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2," I had no worries that the third movie in the franchise wouldn't be appropriate for my 5- and 7-year-old girls. But here's a warning for parents of sensitive children: Things get a little dark in the middle.
Buzz and Woody's boy, Andy, is heading off to college, and his mom wants him to sort through his old stuff. Andy loads his favorite old toys -- Jessie, Bullseye, Rex, Hamm, Slink, and the Potato Heads -- into a garbage bag to store in the attic, and throws Woody into a box headed for college. When the bag accidentally gets thrown to the curb, the toys defect and jump into a box of donations headed for daycare.
Woody, seeing the mistake, tries to talk the toys into heading back to Andy's house, but Sunnyside Daycare looks like a dream come true for toys aching for playtime. This is where things get a little dark.
Warning -- spoilers ahead!
As it turns out, Sunnyside Daycare is run by a homicidal old bear named Lotso, who runs his kingdom with an iron paw. When the toys -- realizing their mistake -- try to escape, they're locked up by Lotso's henchmen, who aren't afraid to break a toy into submission. The action gets so intense and emotional at times -- there's a moment when the toys are headed into a furnace and sadly but bravely accept their fate by holding hands -- that you'll wonder how "Toy Story 3" got a G rating when "Wall-E" and "Up" were rated PG.
It was at this point that my 5-year-old took off her 3-D glasses. My 7-year-old sat quietly in her seat, but her hands were gripping her armrests tightly. Was it too much? Probably not -- my kids seemed fine, and we didn't have any bedtime problems. But it is more adult-type action than we're used to seeing in a G-rated movie.
Offsetting that action, though, were the warm and funny moments we're used to seeing in the "Toy Story" series, including some hilarious scenes between Barbie and fashion-forward Ken, and Buzz's adoration for spunky cowgirl Jessie. But it's the ending where it all comes together and we remember why the original "Toy Story" touched us the way it did. Not a few moms left the theater last night with tears in their eyes, myself included.
You'll get all the laughter and heart you're used to from the "Toy Story" gang, but things get a little rough in the middle for younger viewers. If you've got a sensitive kid, stay home and wait until you can preview this on DVD.