Movie ReviewsRating: 5 of 5 yaps
Toy Story 3
Will Pixar please just make a bad film already?
‘Cause seriously, it’s getting boring telling you about the latest masterpiece rolling into theaters, and I’d really like to tell you that “Toy Story 3″ is full of outdated pop-culture references, bad decisions and everything else that usually accompanies threequelitis (heck, the closest they’ve managed to come is “Cars,” which is very good but falls just short of “timeless classic” status).
But, alas, I can’t. “Toy Story 3″ is probably the best film of 2010 to date, and certainly is the first absolute home run of the season.
In keeping with Pixar’s unending confidence, our story this time has a sort of honest finality, as Andy, the loving owner of our band of toys, is all grown up and heading off to college. He’s in the midst of cleaning out his room and is faced with a tough choice: should his toys go in the attic, the trash, or be donated?
As you can imagine, none of those options are good for Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack) and the gang, even as they are nearing the toy equivalent of middle age: they haven’t been played with in years and simply sit in Andy’s toybox.
An accident finds the toys taken to a day care center, where the welcoming plush arms of Lotso (Ned Beatty) welcome them. Lotso claims they’ll live out their days being played with and loved by scores of adoring kids without the committment of being owned by someone who will one day reject them.
But Woody is dubious, and remains loyal to Andy. He implores his colleagues to join him in journeying back home before he leaves for college. They refuse, and Woody sets off by himself, leaving Buzz and the gang in the seemingly loving hands of Lotso and his friends, including Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton), who instantly connects with Barbie.
But what none of them really know is that Lotso has created a social hierarchy at the day care, where new toys are shuffled to the toddler room to be toy-handled, beaten, bruised and abused by kids outside their suggested age range, while Lotso and his friends live in relaxed comfort in the older kids’ room.
When Buzz and the toys try to escape, Lotso imprisons them, and hits Buzz’s reset button and brainwashes him.
Meanwhile, Woody falls in with the daughter of one of the daycare’s employees, and meets some new friends, including the thespian Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), where he learns the truth about Lotso and reverses course.
Pixar again shows they’re not afraid to take risks in their narratives. The safe, franchise-preserving strategy would have been to keep Andy as a child and merely introduce another new toy. Instead, they go in another direction, giving us another thrilling but more grown-up tale about how the fear of rejection resonates no matter how old you are, but that starting over isn’t always the best course of action either.
Of course we still have the cameraderie between Woody and Buzz, a romance between Buzz and Jessie (Joan Cusack), and another between Barbie and Ken, who is in with the villains but has a soft spot for his blonde paramour, which she takes advantage of as the gang tries to escape.
Director Lee Unkrich also gives us one cracking prison flick with an escape sequence marvelously conceived within the world of toys, and injects a real sense of danger, then a remarkably emotional conclusion that ends on the perfect note.
As always, its the reliance on a good story, a real propulsion of narrative, and wonderful characters that continue to make the “Toy Story” and indeed most all of Pixar’s films the gold standard for animation. “Toy Story 3″ is another unmitigated triumph, and at this point the question must be raised as to where, “Toy Story” falls all time among trilogies.