Perhaps no series of movies has so brilliantly grasped the emotional logic that binds the innate creativity of children at play to the machinery of mass entertainment. Each one feeds, and colonizes, the other. And perhaps only Pixar, a company Utopian in its faith in technological progress, artisanal in its devotion to quality and nearly unbeatable in its marketing savvy, could have engineered a sweeping capitalist narrative of such grandeur and charm as the "Toy Story" features. "Toy Story 3" is as sweet, as touching, as humane a movie as you are likely to see this summer, and yet it is all about doodads stamped and molded out of plastic and polyester.

Therein lies its genius, and its uncanny authenticity. A tale that captured the romance and pathos of the consumer economy, the sorrows and pleasures that dwell at the heart of our materialist way of life, could only be told from the standpoint of the commodities themselves, those accretions of synthetic substance and alienated labor we somehow endow with souls.

Cars, appliances, laptops, iPads: we love them, and we profess that love daily. Its purest, most innocent expression -- but also its most vulnerable and perishable -- is the attachment formed between children and the toys we buy them. "I want that!" "That's mine!" Slogans of acquisitive selfishness, to be sure, but also articulations of desire and loyalty. The first "Toy Story" acknowledged this bond, and "Toy Story 2" turned it into a source of startlingly deep emotion. 

-- A.O. Scott

(Hat tip Text Patterns)