Toy Story 3 Is One Odd Movie

The teddy bear makes the gang his prisoners, locking them up in cages patrolled by menacing security forces including a cymbals-clashing monkey and an authoritarian Ken doll (Michael Keaton) who keeps getting distracted by Barbie (Jodi Benson), mainly because he wants to show her his dream house and its roomful of glitter-tuxedos and disco hot pants. Meanwhile, the teddy bear figures out how to reprogram Buzz to make him his prison warden.

Seeing Buzz turn on his old friends is more disturbing than funny, as is the hint that those who cross the teddy bear get tortured ("they broke me," says one terrified toy), and even the teddy bear's villainy turns out to have a sad backstory that is very much in tune with the minor key that so much of the script is written in.

Still, there is a thrilling climax in which the toys try to avoid getting made into landfill, and the playfulness of the first two films occasionally sparkles as brightly as before. The introduction of the Ken-and-Barbie scenes is probably the sharpest idea the writers have come up with, although even this storyline is a little problematic: the many jokes that hint that Ken is gay (he even writes like a girl) may raise questions from your kids that you aren't necessarily ready to answer.

It might have been wiser (and funnier) for the movie to flip over the Ken-and-Barbie stereotypes: the single funniest joke is that Barbie, out of nowhere, shares with us her political philosophy: "Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from the threat of force." It's too bad that this line is a one-off. Because Brainiac Barbie could have been a hilarious character.