Toy Story 3 by PixarThis weekend, I finally managed to wrangle my kids–and a few of their friends — to see Toy Story 3. Now before you read any further, I must first disclose a major bias: In my mind, Pixar’s John Lasseter can do little wrong. I walked in wanting to like it.

And loved it.

Toy Story 3 opens with little Andy all grown up and packing for college, while Woody and Buzz Lightyear and the gang, now relegated to a toy chest of old playthings, contemplate their possible fate including retirement up in the attic, or a visit to the trash heap. The more ideal option — and of course the richer option as far as plot twists and humor potential are concerned — is a stay at a daycare facility with other donated toys.

I’ve heard mixed reviews of the film; one friend told me she thought the overall premise, a showdown between the good and bad toys at daycare was too dark. Another told me they didn’t like the portrayal of young children as rough on their toys.

Me, I thought it was all just awesome.

Cool Mom Picks Pick of the Year 2010The humor works on so many levels, as does most great children’s entertainment. My five year-old enjoys the general gist of the story, my three year-old stays entertained by the funny characters and the visual gags, and I can get the vague metrosexual references to the Ken doll, hilariously voiced by Michael Keaton. And the animation is so rich, so perfect, you nearly forget you’re watching a cartoon.

What really makes Toy Story 3 a classic though, are the profound emotional connections we make with the toys. Less because they’re playthings that we have nostalgia for as adults, and more because their feelings for “their Andy” mirrors the ones we have for our own kids. As he prepares to go off on his own, they find true satisfaction in the adult he’s become, even while experiencing conflict at being less needed thesmelves. In the end, they are faithful friends who find joy in being there for him, even if he can’t be there for him.

If that doesn’t bring some great big sobbing moments throughout the film that you tell your kids “are just allergies,” then I don’t know what will. –Liz

Toy Story 3 in theaters now. It’s worth it for the 3-D glasses, and for the screening of Day & Night, which is so going to be up for best animated short this year.

And when your kid simply HAS to have a Jessie doll or the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Cuffs, find them all from Mattel.