Toy Story 3: A Third Time Continues to Charm

24 06 2010

Pixar’s ground-breaking Toy Story saga concludes this summer with Toy Story 3, reuniting audiences with some of Disney’s (and cinema’s) most memorable characters. Here’s the breakdown:

Andy is headed to college and Buzz Lightyear, Woody and the rest of the gang wonder what will become of them. Deciding that life at a local daycare center is better than retirement in the attic, the toys head to Sunnyside, where they meet Lotso, the seemingly friendly leader of the ragtag group of daycare toys. But not all is as it seems, and Woody must team up with new and old friends alike to save his family and return to Andy.

The Monkey: Pixar’s number one asset is their writers. As poor box office numbers plague such visually stimulating movies as Jonah Hex and The A-Team, it is becoming increasingly clear that a good story will not only please audiences, but studio execs as well. The characterization is solid, the plot is familiar, yet refreshing enough to avoid feeling overdone. And Pixar knows their audience. Sure, a new generation of kids will enjoy this third foray into the world of talking toys, but the true fanbase for the Toy Story franchise is 20-somethings, who themselves were kids when the original film debuted in 1995. With this in mind, Toy Story 3 kept the humor family-friendly while managing to appeal to the original fans (once again, Mr. Potato Head has some belly-laugh-inducing moments).

Seeing the movie in 3D did little for me, other than giving me the opportunity to see the movie in digital projection. The crystal clear image threw Pixar’s quality animation style into sharp contrast with similarly animated fare.

The new characters that were introduced (while numerous) were memorable, especially Lotso and Ken. And Lotso’s turn as the film’s villain was more fleshed out and better written than Toy Story 2’s Stinky Pete the Prospector.

The ending of the movie was satisfying, bringing a wonderful film to a wonderful conclusion.

The Weasel: There were a lot of new characters, almost too many. Not only was there a whole new cast of toys at Sunnyside, but another group was introduced, a collection of toys owned by daycare attendee, Bonnie. It was this latter group that was more intriguing, and I wish the film had spent more time acquainting the audience with the likes of Mr. Pricklepants, Trixie and Buttercup. Perhaps we’ll see more of these characters sometime in the future…?

At times, the peril the toys found themselves in bordered on ridiculous, going as far as a descent into a veritable hell (in the form of a garbage incinerator). But just when it seemed too much, the filmmakers pulled back, splashing in some humor and charm.

Yet another success for Pixar and another enjoyable move-going experience. Sure to be a contender for Best Animated Film at next year’s Oscars, Toy Story 3 is certainly deserving of a nomination; however, the previously released How to Train Your Dragon could be well deserving of the top honor.

4.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Was Toy Story 3 a fitting ending to the series? Do you think we’ll see more Toy Story films in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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