However, since I was fortunate enough to see it on opening weekend as part of my family’s Father’s Day celebration, I feel compelled to provide a timely review…
11 years have passed since Toy Story 2 (how is that possible?), and little Andy is now heading off to college, leaving his toys – led by Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) – worried about what will happen to them. Fearing they’ll be thrown out as trash, they get themselves donated to a local daycare center, whose toys are presided over by the avuncular Lotso-Huggin’ Bear (Ned Beatty). But Woody, Buzz, and the gang soon realize the daycare center is more of a prison than a playplace – and the only way they can escape is through a daring, dangerous breakout.
Because of the iconic status of Buzz and Woody, and how often the first two Toy Story sequels have been played in my home, it felt almost surreal to see Andy’s toys in the new environments of this third installment. I actually felt a bit emotionally detached from the action for the first half of the film, as the toys discover their new home at the ironically named Sunnyside day care center.
That’s not to say the first half of Toy Story 3 isn’t enjoyable; the new toys that Buzz and Woody’s gang meet at Sunnyside are a fun mix of new and familiar, including breakout character Ken (Michael Keaton). And the attention to detail that director Lee Unkrich and the Pixar animators bring to scenes, such as Lotso giving Andy’s toys a tour of Sunnyside, are beyond belief.
Midway through Toy Story 3 is where things kick into high gear. Realizing that a carefully plotted escape is the only way out, Andy’s toys embark on an elaborate breakout a la The Great Escape that must have taken the Pixar team months to storyboard.
But it’s the film’s third act where Unkrich and screenwriter Michael Arndt save the heavy emotional stuff that comes from knowing these characters for the past 15 years. The final scenes involving Andy and his mom, as well as Andy and his toys, are bittersweet but realistic…a testament to the powerful impact of this animated feature.
It’s almost getting tedious to say it with each new release, but with Toy Story 3, Pixar has indeed done it again.
- While we saw the 3D version of Toy Story 3 (it’s all Dash would talk about when mentioning TS3 over the last six months), it adds very little except to the price of your tickets – and Jack-Jack, our 4-year-old, refused to wear the 3D glasses after 20 minutes. So unless your kids are clamoring for the 3D experience, stick with the 2D version.
- In the bedroom toys of Sunnyside preschooler Bonnie (Emily Hahn), watch for a cameo by the titular character of Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro. Disney/Pixar chief creative officer John Lassetter (who directed Toy Story and Toy Story 2) idolizes Miyazaki, and Disney is the US distributor of Miyazaki’s films.
- Actor John Morris has been the voice of Andy for all three Toy Story films.
Will your kids like it?* Something tells me your kids will love, not like, Toy Story 3. The film is full of action, colorful characters (in both personalities and hues), and humor for all ages.
* There are a couple of spots where the film gets dark in tone, particularly a perilous scene near the end involving Andy’s toys. And while my family found the cymbal-clanging monkey who guards Sunnyside at night to be hilarious, the close-ups of him shrieking and wailing had a couple of little kids crying in our theater.
Will your FilmMother want to watch it?I hope she would, and I hope she will.
Toy Story 3
* Director: Lee Unkrich
* Screenwriter: Michael Arndt
* Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, Blake Clark
* MPAA Rating: G
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