Disney/Pixar’s 11th animated feature brings us back
to the beloved characters that started it all and have become
a global pop culture phenomenon. Hearing that Randy Newman
score and catchy Oscar-winning song will make you feel right
at home. You can trust that another adventurous, heart-warming
and imaginative tale will be told yet again. That you can
will completely throw you for a loop here though isn’t
just the fantastic storytelling, but how you’ll find
a smile plastered to your face throughout the entire film.
Sure, you’ll belly-laugh and feel for these devoted
toys but by the end, you’ll be choked up for these
nylon and plastic children's playthings.
been over ten years since we last saw Andy’s toys
and while we aged along with him, his beloved toys did not.
All they long for is what they always wanted, to be played
with, a selfless desire that gives them both purpose and
meaning. Yet with Andy (John Morris) going off to college
in just three days, they have every right to be worried.
What will their fate be? They’re too used to be collector’s
items. Who would buy them? They’ve seen friends sold
off in yard sales (poor Wheezy and give up a moment of silence
for Bo Peep), so despite their years of faithfulness, they
realize it’s either the attic or in a garbage bag
on the curb.
cowboy leader Woody (Tom Hanks) tries to console his friends,
reassuring them they are still Andy’s and that he
wouldn’t let anything happen to them. It’s hardly
any comfort though and space ranger Buzz Lightyear (Tim
Allen) knows Woody cannot guarantee they won’t face
roll call of familiar faces are few: there’s cowgirl
Jessie (Joan Cusack) with Bullseye in tow, cantankerous
Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) with his doting wife, Mrs.
Potato Head (Estelle Harris), insecure dinosaur, Rex (Wallace
Shawn), sardonic piggy bank, Hamm (John Ratzenberger), reliable
Slinky Dog (Blake Clark, replacing the late Jim Varney)
and a trio of Pizza Planet Aliens, all determined to stick
together, no matter what.
it’s up to Andy to choose their fate and it’s
a decision that unintentionally sets the story in motion.
It’s the kind of motion that we have come to expect
and embrace in a Toy Story movie. Our toy friends
always need to find a way home and in the process learn
a thing or two about themselves and the world around them.
In doing so, they often wind up helping us realize a thing
or two as well.
a trashbag mix-up and some quick thinking, the toys, including
Barbie (Jodi Benson), wind up in a box labeled “Sunnyside”,
which turns out to be the name of their new home. They soon
discover they’ve been donated to a day-care center,
where veritable misfit toys reside, led by Lots-o’-Huggin’
Bear, nicknamed Lotso (Ned Beatty).
of strawberries and delivering a folksy first-impression,
he comes across as the consummate host. But is he? In his
friendly, sing-song drawl, Lotso shares with the toys how
they are now in a place where they will always be played
with by children.
something doesn’t feel right and we soon learn that
Lotso, his number two, Ken (Michael Keaton is a hoot!) and
their muscle, Big Baby, have quite an operation at Sunnyside,
one that doesn’t live up to its name.
whole thing doesn’t sit right with Woody, who takes
it upon himself to get his friends out of this danger zone
where toddlers slam you against the floor and slobber all
over your head. Woody is inadvertently introduced to a sweet
young girl named Bonnie (Emily Hahn), and her role-playing
toys: a lederhosen-wearing hedgehog, Mr.Pricklepants (an
excellent Timothy Dalton), a rag Dolly (Bonnie Hunt), Trixie
the blue triceratops (Kristen Schaal ) and Buttercup (Jeff
Garlin), the mythical unicorn. All of them are gingerly
treated and active players in Bonnie’s own toy stories,
a far cry from Sunnyside.
the rest of the toys swallow their feelings of abandonment
and decide Sunnyside is not the place for them, the great
escape begins! In no time, they hatch an elaborate plan
that results in hair-raising thrills and absolute hilarity.
After all, improv and implementation is what these toys
do best. On their own, left to help each other survive various
perils and possible destruction, we see a humanity and dignity
from them that poignantly pervade this endearing story.
I’m crazy about any creation from Pixar, I wasn’t
so hot on the idea of sequels. I’d preferred that
the movies stand in and of themselves. But this delightful
viewing experience is proof that, like any film, it all
comes down to a solid script.
makes these sequels work so well is how they effortlessly
live up to their title, they are toy stories that have much
to offer. Writer Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine)
injects quite a bit into this story, yet it feels more like
a multi-articulated action figure then a stuffed toy. He
starts out with a spectacular opening action scene complete
with a mushroom cloud full of a barrel of monkeys which
thrusts us back into the imagination, wishing we could stay
pulls on the heartstrings where it counts, though. He manages
to include everything we love about this world and the characters
we care about. One of the more touching scenes at the end
is not written for a toy but for Andy, which turns out to
be a bittersweet coda to the Toy Story movies,
hopefully. I love these characters as much as anyone but,
like Andy, I know when to move on, and it’s an ending
that adds graceful closure to a beloved franchise.
Lee Unkrich worked on the previous Toy Story films
and knows that in order for this one to work, familiarity
needs to be balanced with new locations, themes and emotions.
I’m not going to even give details on how he and his
crew exceed these elements on all levels.
there is a great deal of expectation for Pixar’s very
first threequel. We all know that by the third movie in
any franchise, the creative well starts to dry up a bit.
Not do with Pixar. The creative team is firing on all cylinders,
delivering what is actually the funniest of the three films
with the requisite top-notch animation present.
only does Pixar know how to produce colorful animation that
pops with real weight, depth and texture but they also know
how to incorporate 3D. Somehow the 3D adds even more to
the beautiful visuals on-screen, accentuating not detracting
what the audience will see. Regardless of presentation though,
be it 2D, 3D or IMAX, the heart of the film will connect
and that’s all that matters.
a real pleasure to return to these characters. Not only
are they all back but the cast sound like they are just
as happy to back up on the screen. Toy Story 3
is the first film I have seen this year where I cannot find
You’ll want to make sure you remain seated for the
traditional end credits hilarity and don’t miss Teddy
Newton’s short “Day and Night” before
the movie starts. It’s a cute and cool retro-looking
animated work that features two identical 2D creatures (hence
the title), who both have different 3D visual displays in
their torsos. If you liked the opening montage to last year’s
“Up” then you’ll recognize that composer
Michael Giacchino fluidly complimenting the tone and emotions.
It’s a fun and charming short actually has a surprisingly
timeless message to it.)
review also appears on David J. Fowlie's own site, Keeping-it-Reel.com