If you see Pixar's "Toy Story 3," you may wonder whether to pay extra for 3-D. The value of the surcharge isn't immediately apparent. Even though the movie was designed from the start to take advantage of the format (unlike "Clash of the Titans," which had a last-minute 3-D conversion), the effects are so subtle as to be barely noticeable.
I was halfway through the movie before I realized why seeing it in 3-D was worth it: The dark glasses make it hard for people to see you crying.
If you're a parent, "Toy Story 3" is a devastating film. Pixar uses the plight of the toys (which have to cope with their owner Andy going off to college) as a conceit for the anguish of parents dealing with their children growing up.
It's so poignant and sad — in ways that will likely fly right over the heads of children — it's hard to consider this a kids' movie. More like a film for adults that may appeal to children.
"Toy Story 3" begins with the toys devising a last-ditch effort to make Andy play with them. He's 18 now, and they've been barely acknowledged for years, stowed away in a chest. The plan fails, and Andy tosses the toys in a sack bound for the attic.
The toys wind up a daycare center, which at first seems promising (there's a never-ending supply of kids to play with them). But it soon turns out to be a concentration-camp environment run by the sociopathic bear Lots-O'-Huggin' and a disfigured doll named Big Baby. (Despite being terrifying, Big Baby is available for purchase.)
The movie isn't afraid to get dark in the second act, including a tragicomic origin story for Lotso in classic film-noir style. When the toys seem inexorably bound for a fiery death in a landfill incinerator, I began to wonder if the whole thing wasn't a little too intense for kids.
Fortunately (spoiler alert), a deus ex machina spares the toys, giving them one last chance to play with Andy — before having to resign themselves to life without him. The film ends on this bittersweet note.
In real life, you get about 10 years to play with your children, and maybe another eight of them living in your house. Make the most of them.
BuboBlog Rating: 4 asterisks (out of 4).