08/13/2010 04:46 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

An Environmentalist's View of Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 isn't a hard sell. Everyone loves Pixar. But the film's environmental angle hasn't gotten enough attention.

No spoilers here, but the story is all about the effects of our throwaway culture. It opens with a teenage Andy packing up for college, his mom instructing him to sort his childhood stuff -- including the old toys that, unbeknown to him, are endearingly anthropomorphic - into either trash bags to throw out or into attic-bound boxes. A mix-up ensues and the no-longer-wanted playthings end up headed to the dump.

Other filmmakers would do well to learn from the pitch-perfect scenes that unfold thereafter: Each proffers an exacting balance of action, heartwrench, and more than anything, comedy - we're treated to some truly riotous moments.

Excellent execution aside, TS3 is worthwhile for its take-home message. Wide-eyed, 3D-spectacled kids get to see, quite viscerally, what happens when they discard something (or someone) that's no longer shiny and new. After an array of engaging plot twists, the climactic sequence has as its stage an ominous landfill where the characters we've come to care for face a crushing demise.

Though the movie never even approaches feeling preachy, we come away with a newfound appreciation for our well-worn things, for the virtues of hand-me-downs, and for the fact that we should probably be pickier about what we accumulate -- and how much we cast off.