Ingenious and funny, but with a truly harrowing climax and an undercurrent of real sadness, "Toy Story 3" will transfix kids 7 and older as well as teens and adults. However, the 7-and-older recommendation reflects not only the poignancy of the central theme about kids setting aside toys as they grow up, but the scariness of the climax.
From the start, the cowboy Woody (voice of Tom Hanks), spaceman Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the other toys face a bittersweet life change, because their human owner Andy is going off to college. The toys hope to be sent to the attic where they'll at least stay together, except for Woody, whom Andy intends to take with him. But they're mistakenly donated to a day care center where toddlers rough them up with hilarious abandon. Even worse, when the humans are away, the toys at the center are ruled by a bear named Lotso (Ned Beatty), who's a tyrant. Woody realizes the danger his buddies are in, sneaks in and plans their escape.
The bottom line (spoiler alert): The toys' climactic escape from a landfill near the end of the film becomes very frightening. Woody, Buzz, and the gang are all headed on a conveyor toward a glowing furnace where they'll surely perish. They are, of course, rescued and the humor returns, but it is a very dark interlude. Earlier in the film, the desolate atmosphere at the day care center echoes classic prison escape films. There is mildly homophobic humor directed at Barbie's other half, Ken (voice of Michael Keaton), and his obsession with clothes.
Jane Horwitz, Washington Post