Review: Toy Story 3
PLOT: With Andy due to leave for college, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and the rest of the TOY STORY gang are left with the possibility of a one way trip to the junkyard. The toys end up getting donated to a daycare, where they encounter another group of toys, including a swinging seventies Ken doll (Michael Keaton), and the strawberry scented southerner Lots-O'-Huggin'-Bear (Ned Beatty).
REVIEW: TOY STORY 3 is yet another major triumph for Pixar. It's at least as good as the first two films in the series, and maintains the impossibly high standard set by WALL-E, and UP. The folks at Pixar have yet to make a bad film, and one wonders; what are they doing right that everyone else is doing wrong?
In my opinion, what it all comes down to is time, talent, and lack of greed. You see, if Pixar was like any other studio, a third TOY STORY film would have been made years ago. Instead, the filmmakers were given time to come up with a story that ends the series in an organic, moving way- and unlike most sequels, feels like a necessary addition to the series. One gets the feeling that TOY STORY 3 wouldn't exist if the people that ran Pixar had any doubt it would be anything less than fantastic.
When we last encountered the toys, they had extended their family by welcoming Woody's sister Jessie (Joan Cusack), to the pack- and were settling into a few more good years in the company of their beloved master Andy. Alas, all good things come to an end, and by the time TOY STORY 3 opens, Andy's abandoned the toys- with the exception of Woody, who stands as a beloved reminder of his childhood, and will be making the trip to college with him.
As much as Woody loves Andy, he's torn about leaving his fellow toys, and a mishap ends with him being shipped with the rest of the toys to a daycare over-run with rambunctious tots. These children mistreat the toys, but in the end, they're much less a threat than the devious 'Lots- O'-Huggin-Bear, who, with Ned Beatty doing the voice, seems like he stepped out of the pages of a piece of Southern Gothic fiction, and runs the daycare like a prison. In a way, this evil bear is a bit like the roles Beatty used to play in movies like WHITE LIGHTENING, back in the seventies. He seems to be having the time of his life voicing the role, and it's probably the best work he's gotten in years.
Huggin' Bear is a terrific villain for the TOY STORY universe, but like the rest of the toys- he's far from a straight baddie. There's a heartbreaking story in his past that brings to mind the classic scene in TOY STORY 2, where Jesse reveals the way she was loved and then abandoned by her previous owner. That I would be able to be so moved by a villain's origin is an achievement in itself, and says volumes about the quality of writing on display here. More than once I had to brush away a couple of errant tears under my 3D glasses- and judging from the sobbing I heard throughout the film, I wasn't the only one.
Which is not to say TOY STORY 3 is a downer. Far from it. It's actually very uplifting, and- like the previous films, very funny. Michael Keaton is the voice of the ascot wearing, disco dancing Ken, and every time he was on screen, I was in stitches. I also got a big kick out of former James Bond- Timothy Dalton's, brief turn as Mr. Prickle-pants, a theatrically inclined toy, prone to quoting Shakespeare, and delighting in imaginary tea parties. There's also lots of excitement, and the 3D effects really shine during the climactic scenes that sees the toys trying to avoid a particularly nasty fate in a landfill.
Like pretty much everyone else who' has seen TOY STORY 3, I found this to be an essentially perfect film. I had huge expectations walking in, and this amazingly surpassed them all. This is the one blockbuster I've seen this summer that delivered everything it possibly could, and for that, this gets a perfect score.
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