Movie Review: "Toy Story 3"

When it comes to making sequels of films I stand by one measure of whether it is good or not, can it stand alone without having seen any of the previous film. Now we’re talking about a third part. How do you judge it by the same measure? You don’t. You have to see if it makes a whole. Does it complete the circle of life to the story? (No pun intended) “Toy Story 3” not only completes the circle but flies, “to infinity and beyond”.

Bringing together all the original creative team from the previous films, along with the spirit of those passed, Lee Unkrich (Finding Nemo, Monsters) takes on sole duty of directing this final installment of Andy’s toys. Lending their written voice to the script is Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine), John Lasseter (Cars, Toy Story 1&2), Andrew Stanton (Wall-E, Finding Nemo) and Unkrich. Bringing emotion through his power of memorable music is the quintessential Randy Newman (Just about any Disney/Pixar Animated feature since 1995). And this is just the tip of the iceberg of an amazing group of individual artists and creative minds that The Walt Disney Company has. Least we not forget the talented voices resuming their roles of Woody and Buzz, Tom Hanks (Angles & Demons, Charlie Wilson’s War) and Tim Allen (Wild Hogs, The Santa Clause series).

Our story picks up as Andy is about to leave for college. It’s been years since the toys have been played with as they use to with Andy, the adventures, the stories, the action. What do you do with your toys when you are going to go to college? Put them in the attic. Just don’t put them in a garbage bag or else someone will throw it on the curb as we are about to learn. This gives our toys the thought that Andy only wants Woody and not the rest of them, being Buzz, Jessie, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Rex, Hamm, and Slinky. Barbie is with Andy’s little sister, Molly who has decided to give Barbie to the Sunnyside Preschool as a donation. Most of the other toys have already been donated or sold through garage sales. So this leaves the rest to find out what to do since Andy doesn’t want them anymore, or so they think. They decide to join Barbie and head to Sunnyside to be played with by all the children. Woody however knows the truth and tries to convince them that Andy was not throwing them away. Unfortunately majority rules and they end up at the day care. Woody knows he has to be with Andy and needs all their help to get back to him. With the help of some new characters, Ken, Mr. Pricklepants, Buttercup, Dolly, Chatter Telephone, and Lotso the gang try to help a friend.

Unkrich picks up the torch in this film and runs with it. Making sure that not only does the film stand on its own but comes full circle. It is one thing that Disney/Pixar has always kept at the forefront, the story. If you relay on just the technologies that go into create the film it is just ohhs and ahhs, when you add the story it breaths life that hits every emotion. I could look around the theater at points and the biggest of men would have a tear in their eye or the widest of grins. Collaborating with such heavyweights as Lasseter, Stanton, and Arndt as your writing team who know the essence of a great story and you know you are going to present something special on the screen. Lasseter has always been the lead proponent of, “it’s not about the technology but the story” and this story delivers. Newman back in the saddle of music composition just pushes you over the edge again with his detail of notes giving even more life to the words and visuals you see on screen, a true artist of all genres of musical expression.

 Then there are our trusted actors who lend their voices to some of the most memorable characters ever. Hanks and Allen as Woody and Buzz are just a superb in this film as they have been in the first two films. The range of emotions Unkrich pulls out of these excellent actors performances is if they were physically on the screen themselves and not animated characters. Now add in those lovable sidekicks who have weathered the years like Jessie voiced by Joan Cusack, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head voiced by Don Rickles and Estelle Harris, Wallace Shawn as the lovable Rex, the always resident Pixar voice John Ratzenberger as Hamm, Barbie portrayed by the lovely and talented Jodi Benson, and stepping in to help Slinky Dog come to life is Blake Clarke stepping in for the late Jim Varney. As always they are the core of the films life, one big happy family of toys that sticks together through thick and thin. Joining them on this venture are some new toys that are familiar to young and old. First is Ken voiced by Michael Keaton, providing a whimsical portrayal of Barbie’s “man”, Timothy Dalton as the ever on stage Mr. Pricklepants the thespian hedgehog, Bonnie Hunt as the rag doll Dolly, Whoopi Goldberg as Strech the purple octopus, Teddy Newton as the quiet Chatter Telephone, and the strawberry smell of Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear voiced by Ned Beatty. Throughout this film all involved show their muscle with regard to the written word and bringing life from paper to the screen. It is all their talent and range of vocals mixed with the cinematic beauty of the artistic crew that again make this movie stand out. Pixar has again stepped up and delivered another hit.

If you’re wondering how this film looks in 3D, all I have to say is, AMAZING. The wizards at Pixar have truly embraced this technology and pushed it to its boundaries. Yes “Avatar” did great too but were they were making it realistic “3” brings you into the animation and makes you become part of the story. The digital projection is so crisp and clean it truly pops out at you clearly. The detail the animators, inbetweeners, editors, technicians and everyone involved can pat each other on the back and sit back for a spell and enjoy their beautiful work. That is until their next project.

With all this emotion flowing about it reminds me of what I feel this movie brings to light, life is ever changing and always comes full circle as long as there is someone there to carry it on. I remember being a young kid and playing with my toys, Lego’s, GI Joe’s, Tinker Toy’s, and such and creating stories that only a child could create. Some of us never stop that our imagination and continue into our adult lives thriving on that creativeness and hope that someone younger picks up where we left off and adds their indelible mark. Whether it’s in making films, accounting, building, or costuming, taking what we learn and making our own story. Much like giving a toy to the next young child and watching what adventures may come from them. This film also reminds me that family, in any form you choose to create is bound by love and trust. No matter what the situation, good or bad, sticking together and keeping a level head a family can accomplish anything. I know that from my experience with my real family and my other chosen families. So get your family together go out and spend an afternoon or evening together and watch this delightful, heartfelt story of love, hope, adventure and family.

I’d also like to dedicate this review to a dear Disney friend, Frieda. A dear friend to many of us. I’ve said before that we have our real family and the family we choose and she was definitely one many choose to be part of. She is Momma to a lot of us and I will always remember her as such. With her Garlic wreath and wooden spoon she could gig with the best of them. And when it came to creativity she was an amazing visionary, especially when it came to costuming. I may have had my disag
reements with her but I always respected her insight. I will miss her dearly and for that I dedicate this review to her as she was an avid Disney fan. I spent many a day pin trading with her and looking for that elusive pin. You will always be in my heart every time I trade a pin Momma. You will always be remembered but missed most of all. Thank you Frieda for all the inspiration you gave, I love you.

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