Movie Review Rewind: Toy Story 3 (2010)
The Toy Story trilogy began over 15 years ago. Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the gang have been through a lot. They have fought, been lost and kidnapped, but they always managed to stick together and find their way back home. And their dedication and loyalty remained with Andy all through his childhood and beyond. But, Toy Story 3 is about letting go and moving on. In the last movie, the toys were worried about the day Andy grew up and did not play with them anymore. Well it has finally arrived.
Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 is an amazing accomplishment. This is the third in the series and it is just as good as the other two movies. That is rare. Very rare. Pixar knows how to tell a story about anything and make them in to characters you connect with and care for. You completely become invested and as we all know, we invested in Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), Rex, Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), and all the familiar faces a long time ago.
In this Toy Story, most of Andy’s toys are gone. They have been shipped out, sold, thrown away, or donated. There are only a select few left in the toy chest. And they have not been held or played with in years. Andy is 17 years old and heading off to college. Oh they grow up so fast. They have to hide his cell phone in the toy chest where they are stashed just so they can see his face. So the question is where will Woody, Buzz and the rest of them go?
Due to a mistake by Andy’s mom, the toys end up at Sunnyside Daycare. At first glimpse, this place seems like heaven on Earth for them. They are with other toys and will always be played with by kids forever. They will be able to make children happy for the rest of their days. But this paradise soon is shown for what truly is–a prison. This prison is led by Lotso (Ned Beatty), a huggable bear that smells like strawberries. He appears to be a southern gentleman, but is angry and bitter on the inside. This leaves Woody and the gang having to try and break-out and get back home to Andy–if he even noticed they were gone.
Toy Story 3 is an entertaining adventure that provides laughs and thrills all the way through. But this movie is darker and more tense than the other two. Perhaps a little too much for kids. It is definitely clear that director Lee Unkrich (co-director of Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo) wanted to create a more mature story since Andy and the toys have gotten older and more mature themselves. But Unkrich makes this Toy Story just as enjoyable as the other two and fits right in with them. This has to be one of the best trilogies ever created. I am putting it right in there with The Godfather and Lord of the Rings. Yeah I said it.
Woody and the rest of the toys are not the only ones that have seen Andy and themselves grow up and watch time change. As the audience, we have fallen in love with these characters. They are a part of our culture and are very much recognizable to all of us. We have been on the adventures with them and enjoying every moment of it. But like these characters in the movie, we have to learn to let go.
The new characters introduced in this movie are great, but two really stick out: Lotso and Ken. Lotso is a great villain because he used to be loved by a child until he was lost and soon replaced. Then he changed for the worst and gave up on being loved by another kid. Ken (Michael Keaton) brings most of the comedy to the movie. Of course, when he and Barbie first lay eyes on each other, it is love at first sight. But he loves fashion way more than she does. And Ken gets poked at quite a bit and the movie hints at a few things that most adults will certainly pick up. Probably a few kids too.
Pixar is terrific at turning things in to characters and providing great storytelling and it does not matter if they are people, fish, rats, cars, or toys. Toy Story 3 is a deeper film than you might think. This one really takes on some of life’s lessons like moving on, making others happy, not being selfish, and how to begin a new chapter in one’s life. This goes for every character in the movie in some kind of way. Ever since the first Toy Story, this trilogy has been about toys and the happiness they bring to a childhood. Toys seem so important while we are young. They are our world and we are theirs. No matter how much we wish we could stay kids, it does not last. It is not meant to be.
Pixar knows how to tug on the heart-strings. For everyone who saw Up last year, you know what I mean. And be prepared to shed a tear or two in this movie as well. The last few scenes are pretty emotional and I know it sounds funny saying that about an animated film dealing with toys, but it is true. You feel this connection with Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang and you worry for them and care about them. That is when you know Pixar is doing its job perfectly. We are completely engaged and wrapped up in their world.
Decisions have to be made in Toy Story 3. It is only right. And there is a nice “passing of the torch” moment that is bittersweet. It is the end of an era but a new beginning at the same time. Just like Woody, we knew this was going to happen eventually, we just never thought the day would come so soon. You hate to see it end but if I learned one thing from this movie, we must move on.
Toy Story 3 is a great film. Forget that it is even animated. It tells a wonderful story that will resonate with adults and still entertain and amaze us and kids alike. It is the third in the Toy Story series, but it’s still entertaining, exciting, and heartwarming just like it was when it all began in 1995.
“Nature Boy” Brandon Vick is the resident film critic of the SoBros Network, and star of Brandon’s Box Office In Your Mouth. Follow him on Twitter@SirBrandonV and be sure to search #VicksFlicks for all of his latest movie reviews.