Mommyhood, Thinking Biblically

Just Like the First Two…Only Not

The first two movies in the Toy Story series are favorites in our house, and we have all been eagerly anticipating the premier of the third installment!  It was (finally!) released by Disney/Pixar on June 18th…of course, unlike some of the die-hard fans, we waited a few weeks before venturing to the theaters. 




As a rule, we do not allow Hannah to see movies unless at least one, but preferably both, of us has seen it first.  It is not my habit to play fast and loose with our family rules.  And, it is a rare occasion that I would intentionally bend break this particular rule.  But, especially after hearing numerous positive reviews (many from trusted sources), I assumed that if there was ever a “safe” movie, worth the “risk” of not pre-viewing, it would be the much-loved Toy Story franchise!


One online reviewer said, “All in all, this is just like the first two installments in the franchise, only bigger.”


Maybe it is. Technically, this was a great film.  It was exactly what fans have come to expect from the Disney/Pixar team.  It was extremely well-done.  And, after 11 years, the storyline blended seamlessly with that of its predecessors, neatly wrapping up the Story of these beloved toys. 


But, in general, the darkness and intensity of the entire film was downplayed in every review I heard or read. 


Like most Disney/Pixar fans, I am quite familiar with Disney’s propensity for including an “intense” scene in each movie…some unquestionably more “intense” than others.  So, when we were warned about one particular scene (spoiler warning: in which the toys are riding on a conveyor belt…seemingly to their impending, fiery doom), that might be problematic, I assumed it would be done in typical Disney style…Essential to the overall plot development, but relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  (These are the parts we generally fast-forward through at home, without much damage to the flow of the movie as a whole.)  One reviewer did say that it “could be a bit too intense for the film’s youngest viewers.” 


Although I appreciate the reviewer’s honesty on that point, I think that the fact that those “youngest viewers” are the film’s target audience, should have received more consideration from the writers and producers than it did.  There were moments of comic relief sprinkled throughout the darker scenes.  But, much of it seemed to be lost on the smaller members of the audience.  However, the almost-constant tension, darkness, and outright cruelty of some of the characters (Lotso and Big Baby), was not.




My daughter is a huge fan of Toy Story 1 and 2.  She absolutely loves Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and Bullseye.  But, when asked how she liked Toy Story 3, her response was, “Not much.”  Not exactly a rave.


I know that many people will, and do disagree with me.  As I said before, most, if not all of the reviews I have heard and seen for this movie were extremely positive.  Maybe the reviewers (professional and amateur alike) were hesitant to criticize such a sentimental favorite.  Maybe I am still naïve enough to think that the level of darkness and intensity in this particular film was inappropriate for a child’s movie.  Or, and I’m afraid this might be the case, maybe this is more common than I would like to think…even considered tame for “children’s entertainment” these days.


By comparison, we have very strict standards for what our family watches, and for how we determine what is (or is not) appropriate.  And, we do our best to shield Hannah from a lot of movies (and cartoons, and TV shows) – Disney included – because of the dark or scary themes contained in them.  If this seems excessive, or over-protective, well, fine.  Disagree with me if you must.  My goal is not to please others in my parenting.  It is, first and foremost to please the Lord, as I protect, and, yes, shelter the child that He has given me.


I am not questioning the judgment of parents who considered this movie to be appropriate for their children.  Each family has to determine what their child(ren) can handle, and what they want their child(ren) exposed to.  Maybe, depending on their ages, and the types of movies they have already been exposed to, it was appropriate.  For my child it was too much.  (I’m sure the fact that this was her first experience with the “big screen” only added to the scary/intensity factor!)  Do I think she was scarred for life by the experience?  No.  But, I do wish that I hadn’t assumed that my standards of child-and-age-appropriateness were the same as someone else’s.  I wish I hadn’t assumed  that it was safe… 

All I can say is, lesson learned….the hard way. 



  1. Veronica, my little guys adore Toy Story 1 and 2, but my 4yo chose to spend part of Toy Story 3 waiting outside of the theater. Lotso was lotso scary for my little guy! 🙂

  2. I thought it was interesting that Target sells Lotso as a sweet cuddly bear in it’s Toy Story area (complete with strawberry scent)… who would want him?

    Funny, though, I didn’t see it as so dark (maybe I’ve become dull to the darkness) 🙁 , but I did walk out of Nemo (and have never seen past halfway)… someone told us there was a scary scene in the beginning but then it was good… that scary scene lasted the first half of the movie! We left and asked for our money back… call me weird. 🙂

    1. I was also surprised at how Lotso was being portrayed in the stores! No other “villian” is marketed that way – as a sweet (strawberry-scented), loveable friend. I knew that he was one of the “bad guys” going into the movie, but from the marketing I really thought he would have a “change of heart”.

      And, maybe I’m just a little bit weird (I’ve been called worse!), but as a mom, I don’t want my daughter prizing, or becoming attached to – or worse, imitating the attitude or negative traits of a villianous character!! In my opinion, marketing and/or purchasing Lotso as a sweet toy is tantamout to approval. I’d rather see, and encourage her to play with the good guys – the characters with qualities worth emulating!

      (I’m not a huge fan of Nemo either…it was scary!)

  3. It’s so good to see a mom seriously evaluating what their child should watch–no matter how seemingly innocent it is to the world. I’m not a mom, but if I ever have kids I probably won’t even keep a TV in the house because of all the junk that leaks into our lives through it. I was raised on violent, obscene movies (think R rated) from babyhood up and finally woke up to how “dull to the darkness” (as SomeGirl said) I had become when I was 16. Now I’m hyper-sensitive to it. Needless to say it messed me up for a lot of years. Your daughter is blessed to have a mom who actively guards her heart.
    Blessings in Christ,

    1. Kate – We have a television, but we don’t have “TV” (meaning any form of broadcast – cable or network). For our daughter, we own a few select, pre-approved DVD’s…and even those we are constantly re-evaluating. 🙂

  4. Meggan

    Thank you for posting this honest and Holy Spirit-filtered review. We have a 6 year old who is all boy but prone to nightmares since babyhood. So we are very cautious as to what he watches, and we are also unashamed to say that we shelter him from things from he isn’t ready to handle. We only recently allowed him to watch the original Toy Story movies, which he absolutely loves. We’ve been planning to take him to see the 3rd one, but we will now proceed with caution! Your viewpoint is greatly appreciated – thanks again!

    1. Meggan, “Proceed with caution.” Exactly!!

  5. Thank you for your truthful review. I am very cautious to what my girls see. Sadly most children’s shows/videos are not aimed at children at all these days, it’s mainly underneath to entertain the adults watching with the kids. We steer clear of these. But even the more kid focused Disney movies move my sensitive hearted girl to tears. Many movies others consider fine for a 5yo, we do not allow our girls to view to protect their hearts.

  6. Christine Skelly

    Interesting comments! I was wondering what you thought of the villains in the first two Toy Story movies?

    Also, I too learned the hard way about making an exception…with The Princess and the Frog. My girls have ethnic qualities and since this is the first “black” Disney princess and because Thomas Kinkaid was involved I thought we’d enjoy seeing it together on the big screen. I should have done my homework first! I know that Disney movies can be “iffy” since they tend to go a bit too far…but it’s like I just “assumed” it would be appropriate. Why, oh why, did I do that? Like you said, Veronica, “Lesson learned.”

  7. Jamie

    We really loved Toy Story 1 and 2. So we thought that we could take our 4 yo son to TS 3. I too wish I would have reviewed it first. That particular scene on the conveyor and falling into the fire was too much for me and I’m 27! My son still randomly brings the movie up! It’s so sad that children’s movies and shows, esp. Disney need to be previewed by adults first! We still have tv but daily we are rethinking it! Our standards go up all the time and we find fault it just about everything that is on! I’m praying that my husband and I agree and watch the tv go Bye-Bye! Blessings and love your site!

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