Notable Cast (Voice): Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris
Review: When thinking of some of the greatest trilogies of all time, a few pop out right away. Star Wars, the original trilogy of course. Lord of the Rings? The Godfather trilogy? Alien even? Sure, those are the easy ones. But after viewing Toy Story 3 at midnight, I was convinced that this specific trifecta belongs on any list discussing the best trilogies of all time. Let’s be honest, at this point no one is waiting for Pixar to fail anymore because of their continued successes in film making. Instead, it’s a matter of can Pixar top itself with what it has already accomplished? That answer is an emphatic YES! After being blown away by Up only a year ago, leave it to the latest installment into the Toy Story franchise to make me believe every Pixar employee sold his/her soul to the devil for unending success in Hollywood. I mean honestly how can you improve on movies that are ranked as high as #47 on IMDB’s top 250?? Or what about how Toy Story 1 and 2 both are graced with the illustrious 100% on Rotten Tomatoes?? There is no explanation for such repetitive greatness. But, if that’s what it takes to create a movie with characters that never get old, comedy that suits both adults and children alike, and have a movie that is able to stir up emotions even the most macho of men try to keep bottled up, then I say do what you have to. Toy Story 3 just adds to the insane repertoire that Pixar keeps building on, I even would argue making a film that is Best Picture worthy come Oscar time.
Set years after the gang’s last adventure, Andy is now all grown up and heading out to college. Seeing less and less playtime, the toys start to worry about their future with their owner. Woody (Hanks) tries to convince the others they will see the comfort of the attic together and someday be played with by Andy’s children. The others are less optimistic though, fearing that fateful trip to the curb that will lead to their own destruction. But when a garbage bag mix up lands all but Woody on that very curb, the other toys give up on Andy and make their way to the donation box that is headed to Sunnyside day care. Woody tries to explain what happened, but ends up in the box with them instead. There, they meet the toys that were already forgotten by their owners, led by their charismatic leader Lotso Huggin Bear (Beatty). He shows them to their room (The Butterfly Room), but does not warn them of the intense playtime they are about to receive. The room they are stuck in turns out to be the younger children that do not know how to take care of their toys. The gang learns that Lotso uses new toys to take the beating in the Butterfly Room so he and his cronies can stay comfortably with the older children. Woody does not know this though because he bolted the night before to try and get back to Andy, only to be picked up by one of the campers named Bonnie. It isn’t till later that night when Bonnie’s toys inform him of Sunnyside’s corruption. Conflicted, Woody must decide whether to leave the other toys to their own decision and return to Andy, or break back into Sunnyside to help his friends escape from the deceitful Lostso.
It’s Pixar people. You’ve seen Wall-E. You’ve seen Up. You’ve seen Toy Story 1 and 2. Finding Nemo? Monsters Inc.? The Incredibles? Please, there is enough justification in those titles alone to have no reason not to believe Toy Story 3 is just as spectacular. If that isn’t enough think of how Pixar is able to pull some of the most iconic voices for their movies, in this case the likes of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Michael Keaton, Joan Cusak, Ned Beatty, and so on. These aren’t some chump actors they pulled in off the streets. These are established actors that saw a chance to become part of something really special and were smart enough to not let it pass them by. Each character has such a unique voice that it really brings them to life even more, and the lines are delivered so expertly by the talented voices behind them. The characters all bring something different to the table, offering their own unique brand of comedy. The variety of characters is also very important, having so many that even a character like Buzz didn’t dominate the screen. There was always someone different being introduced and each one was equally as lovable. I have to say Hamm and Potato Head are the two funniest characters to me even though they aren’t the main toys. Their one liners kill me every time, especially when Potato Head bickers with his wife. Those are the kind of jokes adults will really get a kick out of, making relationship jokes that will go over the heads most children. But all the kiddies have to do is see a talking Mr. Potato Head and that’s comedy gold for them right there. See, there’s something for everybody!
The story in Toy Story 3 is easily the deepest out of all of them, dealing with the emotions of not only Andy, but all the toys too. Woody and the others have to struggle with the fact that the boy they had kept happy for all those years no longer has the need for play time, and at the same time they have to decide if it’s time to move on for their own sake. Then you have the story with Andy, and the conflicting emotions about what to do with what is essentially his entire childhood. It’s the final act in a three-part series, representing the decisions most people have to make when they reach the age of Andy. We try to pretend that we are growing up and becoming more mature, but there is always that little part of us that doesn’t want to let go of that innocent childhood fun. Leave it to Pixar to turn a story about talking toys into a movie as deep and profound as the likes of Life is Beautiful or It’s A Wonderful Life.
I have to admit the Toy Story franchise holds a special place in my heart because I was able to witness and appreciate each movie as it was released. I can still remember seeing the first two in the theater, and the movies were really a part of my childhood. Watching the third one was a nostalgic trip that brought back memories from the first two that were released almost 10 years ago. That’s because Pixar doesn’t only create a movie, it creates a whole immersive universe that the characters belong in. Like how seeing the Pizza Planet truck in this film triggers your memory of Buzz and Woody’s crazy adventure with “The Claw.” While watching the movie you really feel the entire atmosphere of the film instead of just watching some pictures on the screen. This makes the film a lot easier to become fully engulfed and invested in, making it ten times more powerful.
My one gripe has nothing to do with the quality of the movie, but instead with the 3D. If it wasn’t for the annoying glasses digging into my head and the empty feeling in my wallet from a ticket that is too overpriced, I would have forgotten it was 3D at all. Sure it was a clear and crisp picture, but nothing that was worth the price of the more expensive ticket. Let me be clear, the movie itself is 100% worth it in every way, but the 3D aspect left more to be desired.
Toy Story 3 is as close to perfect as a movie can get. It rivals the quality of the first 2 movies, which is almost unheard of in a trilogy. This beautiful example of filmmaking is for children and adults alike, continuing the trend of family movies that blow away any opposition in the box office. It also continues Pixar’s dominant performance in the family film genre, making them seem infallible. Toy Story 3 ties together a magnificently written story, the characters we’ve already grown to love, and a heartwarming third act to a trilogy that will go down in cinematic history. The emotions this film awakens causes even the strongest to fall prey to the lovable toys. I was never let down once watching any of the Toy Stories unlike other trilogies where there is always a down note, and Toy Story 3 brings a glorious end to one of the most creative and genuinely perfect tales ever created. No disclaimer is needed for this film like I have to do for so many others. This IS a film that everyone will enjoy. Of all ages. And if you don’t, I can only assume you live on a steady diet of child’s tears and the hearts of adorable animals and were never hugged as a child.
Final Rating: 9 lovable toys out of 10