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Toys & Pets

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Toys & Pets Movie Poster Image
Animated toy story has cartoon violence, positive messages.
  • G
  • 2020
  • 98 minutes

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Themes of friendship, persistence, defying dangers for others or in pursuit of goals, seeking one's own identity, and holding onto personal freedoms.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nathan and Timebot put themselves in harm's way to help each other and their friends. They're willing to risk their own lives to save their friends. This is in contrast to other toys and rodents who act selfishly or who purposefully hurt others. A gentle toymaker retires from his craft when his wife dies, but he rekindles the spirit when two lost toys reappear.

Violence & Scariness

Ceramic toys and a robot face myriad dangers and threats to their lives, surviving fire, being thrown through the air, plunged into deep or boiling waters, pounded, broken, deprogrammed, tied up, chased, and captured.

Sexy Stuff
Language

"Fat piggy." "Wicked." "Stupid."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Toy Story-èsque Toys & Pets is a relatively fast-paced animated film from China about friendship and freedom that has quite a bit of cartoon violence. Ceramic toys and a robot risk their lives, running in front of traffic, getting flung through the air and plunged into water, being locked into a furnace, and chased through a sewer underworld by evil rodents. Their toy friends are likewise threatened, tied up, and imprisoned. The elderly toymaker's wife appears to die in an early scene. The robot Timebot is lost and doesn't know where home is. When the robot discovers where it's from, it rebels against the controlled life of a robot. Mild language includes "fat piggy," "wicked" and "stupid."

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What's the story?

Nathan is a ceramic toy whose colors don't change the way the glazed coats of the other TOYS & PETS do when wet. One day a lost robot rolls into the teahouse where the toys live, and Nathan embarks on an adventure to help the robot find its way back home and also to reach a mystical, all-knowing underworld figure to ask why Nathan is different. Inside the city's sewer systems, the pair have to face the evil rat Flash, who is holding one of Nathan's oldest friends hostage. Flash sends out his minions to capture and kill Nathan and Timebot, but the pair ultimately prevail in finding the answers to all their questions. In the process, they learn the value of friendship and autonomy.

Is it any good?

This Chinese animated adventure should appeal to grade-school kids. The animated toys of Toys & Pets will feel familiar, if not redundant, for fans of the Toy Story franchise, but the storylines and fantasy worlds invented for the dwellers of a Chinese tea shop and a sewage drain netherworld might feel less familiar. Unpredictability isn't necessarily a draw for younger viewers, but for animation enthusiasts the novelty could prove appealing. This is especially true for the film's imaginative sewer world, inhabited by evil rodents and a mystical, all-knowing figure (reminiscent in several ways of The Wizard of Oz) that draws all manner of toys seeking wisdom.

The musical score is used effectively to create moments of enchantment and magic, like an underwater scene with colorful fish and a slow-motion sequence of Nathan maneuvering across a boiling pond filled with menacing toads. There's also an intriguing subplot in Toys & Pets, especially considering the film was made in a country with strict censorship rules like China, that involves the robot Timebot refusing to be "controlled" or condemned to a life of following orders. The two main characters here learn the value of both individualism and being free from outside control.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Nathan is so concerned about being different from all the other ceramic pets in Toys & Pets. Why is it okay to be unique?

  • Timebot doesn't want to live the life of a controlled robot who must constantly follow orders. Why?

  • This film was made in China. What aspects of Chinese culture did you glimpse in this film?

  • How does this movie compare with others starring animated toys, like the Toy Story series?

Movie details

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