TOY STORY 3
By Gary Murray
Starring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty and Don Rickles
Written by Michael Arndt and John Lasseter
Directed by Lee Unkrich
Running time 103 min
MPAA Rating G
For those who follow my writings, I have stated more than once that Pixar Animation is the greatest film company that has ever been created. They have never made a bad motion picture and their percentage of 100 million dollar blockbusters is currently standing at 100%, a perfect score. They are not only the gold standard of computer animation, they are the gold standard of story telling. As much as I believe in the company, I was still worried about Toy Story 3. Go back and look at the third entry of a series and the third leg almost always is the weakest part. Godfather 3, Alien 3 and Lethal Weapon 3 are all examples of how the franchise had run their course. But every once in a while, the franchise is re-born in the last time out, giving a definite and amazing ending to the idea. Such is the finished product Toy Story 3, one of the best flicks of the year.
The story opens with a giant action adventure moment. Buzz and Woody with a little help from Jessie, rescue a bunch of troll dolls from an evil villain, played by our favorite pig Hamm. There is a runaway train and a giant explosion. We soon find that it is all just a very imagined game and that the toys just dream about being played with.
Andy has grown up and is about to go off to college. All of his toys are still in their giant toy box but they haven't been played with in years. Some of the group have been lost to garage sales and some have just been thrown away. Mom wants Andy to either toss out the toys, put them in the attic or donate them to Sunnyside, a day care where both Andy and his sister attended all those years ago.
News of this shocks all of the toys. They worry that some will be discarded in the trash and all fear that they will become separated. When Andy makes his decision, all of the toys except Woody are to be put in the attic. Woody it seems is going with Andy to college, leaving behind Buzz, Jessie and all the rest.
But, through a series of misadventures, all of them end up at Sunnyside. Once there, they meet Lotso a cuddle bear who runs the toy part of the daycare. He tells them of how great it is going to be, being played with every day by different kids. Every toy except Woody wants to stay. Woody knows that they are all Andy's toys and belong with their owner. So, the toys separate with Woody taking out on his own, trying to get back to Andy.
Buzz and the gang find out that being around a group of two year-old kids is a grueling punishment. We also learn that Lotso isn't as kindly as he first appears. All of Andy's toys become beat-up relics, used as paintbrushes and hammers. It becomes a miserable existence, with all of Andy's toys trapped in prison-like conditions.
On the other side of the plot, Woody finds out exactly how bad Sunnyside is for his friends. Ending up at the daycare owners house, he is played with by the little girl who lives there. She has the same kind of imagination that Andy showed so many years ago. Woody treks back to save all of Andy's toys, breaking them out of their confinement. Along the way we get references to such diverse flicks as Cool Hand Luke and Mission Impossible. The exercise of Toy Story 3 is of how friendship and loyalty bond individuals to one another.
This little film is just a joy to watch. Shown in 3D, the effects just come off the screen without ever resorting to cheap tricks. The colors used in the production create a magic wonderland seldom surpassed on the big screen. The film gives our leads some different aspects, from Woody questioning his loyalties to Buzz finding a different mode to his personality. Barbie meets Ken who is much more complicated then imagined. You will never look at a cymbal playing monkey the same way again.
Toy Story 3 is one of the best films of 2010, destined to make many “best of” lists. It is humorous and heartfelt, tugging with equal measure to the heartstrings an funny bone. During the screening, the ending was drawing sniffles and wet eyes from just about every member of the audience, even the heartless critics rows.
One last thing, the opening Pixar cartoon is called Day and Night. To tell anyone any part of the plot would spoil the fun of this inventive pre-feature. Let's just say that it combines the best of modern computer animation with some old style Loony Toon fun, without using any WB characters, just the wacky attitude. It is absolutely a brilliant piece of work and a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination.