Full Title: Toy Story 3
Director: Lee Unkrich
Running Time: 103 minutes
Being a huge fan of the Toy Story saga, I highly anticipated this third installment like so many other young people that grew up with the first two films. Looking back and to this day, the original Toy Story (1995) is one of the few “kids,” CGI films that I enjoyed. I don’t know what it is, maybe because it was the first of its kind or perhaps because I was so young when I saw it in theaters. I don’t know, but I have always held a place for it in my heart. Up until a few weeks ago, I actually had not seen it in nearly ten years and yet I still knew most of the lines! Then, of course, it was followed by Toy Story 2 (1999), which I also saw in theaters and liked. On the other hand, it was ok in comparison to its predescessor and lacked that inital, special touch. So, going into this new movie, I had big expectations and hoped it would be at least as good as the sophomore effort, but probably not on par with the original film. Fortunately, my expectations were satisfied and then some! Which, by the way, is a rare feat; I often walk away feeling disapointed, to different degrees. Ok, now about this “feature presentation.” In Toy Story 3 the owner of the toys, the young boy Andy is becoming a man as he heads off to college, having long abandoned his action figures and playmates alike. As he cleans out this old “junk” he comes across his old heroes, Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), he decides to take Woody with him, but leaves Buzz with the other toys. His mother mistakes a bag filled with the toys (intended for the attic) for a trash bag. Feeling unwanted, they escape and crawl into a box that is to be sent to the Sunnyside Daycare, believing they will be appreciated and loved by new children. Woody follows the others, trying to convince them otherwise. SORTA SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! Upon their arrival at the Daycare they are greeted by another toy, Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear (Ned Beatty), whom on the surface appears to be a warm, welcoming host, but beneath he is a cruel, sadistic, monster. As it turns out, he runs Sunnyside as a prison and the toys become his inmates. Now, it is up to Woody and the gang to defeat the evil Lotso and return to their beloved owner, Andy. I must say Lotso is a great villain, one of the best I have seen in a while and perhaps the best I have ever seen in a children’s movie. He is truly filled with hatred and bitterness beyond repair. Which causes the viewer in some ways to simultaneously fear and pity him. Well maybe not fear… fear for the characters, ok just a little bit of fear. Ahh, being scared by a teddy bear (with a cane at that!), a new low for me. In any case, there is certainly a dark and often emotional tone to the film that is executed near perfectly. It’s darker than the previous two TS, but not murky enough to frighten kids and push them away, and there’s plenty of humor/fun for the whole family to enjoy. Sometimes the jokes are a bit too Pixar for my taste, such as the exchanges between Ken and Barbie, which make me smirk, but are not exactly the strengths of an otherwise unique film. The story culiminates in a fantastic and beautifully chaotic climax, which with no hyberbole, I can safely say keeps you on the edge of your seat and feeling earnestly concerned for the well being of the characters. Overall, this is a great film and perhaps the best all summer, but it is not without its flaws. It drags toward the end, such as the scene between Andy and Bonnie, which could benefit from some trimming. Also, I know this is a kids movie lol, but seriously, Andy would not care as much about these toys! For example, his reaction at the beginning was very genuine; he didn’t really care about them. Him tagging Woody along because he means something to him, I can somewhat buy, but claiming that all of them mean something to him is a stretch, for me at least. As I said, it drags, but all in all, the ending works well. So, is it better than the first film? No, but few are. With that being said, Toy Story 3 does what very few films can: make an honorable and wonderful trilogy. In this instance, it is even more notable because in most trilogies, the third feature is the weakest, clearly this is not the case. I might not love this film as much as the first, but it is undeniably well crafted and will most likely be revered in years to come.
Grade: A-, initially after viewing this I was feeling between a B+ and A- (which some folks thought was too harsh lol), but through the process of film analysis, I eventually leaned toward its well deserved A-.