“Toy Story 3”: Another Instant Classic
It has become increasingly difficult, even impossible for some, to pick a favorite Disney-Pixar film. For 15 years the team has produced one magnificent film after another. With today’s nationwide release of “Toy Story 3,” the mouse house has gone one step further: It will now be difficult for fans to choose even their favorite of the “Toy Story” franchise-the third chapter is every bit as entertaining as its predecessors and in some aspects is more emotionally satisfying.
Certainly the animation has improved since the last installment’s release in 1999, (yes, it has been that long), but the key to “Toy Story 3” as it always is with Disney-Pixar is story, story, story.
The latest adventure finds Andy (voiced by John Morris) heading off to college (striking a heart-wrenching blow to us empty nesters right from the get-go) while his Mom (Laurie Metcalf) nags him to sort through his stuff.
So, the tough question arises-what to do with the toys?
Will they be stored, saved, or tossed like clutter? “Every toy goes through this,” Woody (Tom Hanks) claims, trying to calm the nerves of his anxious pals, including Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), cowgirl Jesse (Joan Cusack), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles, Estelle Harris), Rex the dinosaur (Wallace Shawn) and Hamm the piggy bank (John Ratzenberger) among others.
After a few mix-ups and narrow escapes, the crew lands at what appears to be toy nirvana: Sunnyside Day Care Center, where toys are played with all day and never get discarded. Alas, Woody and the bunch uncover an ugly underbelly to this toddler asylum that casts suspicion on the warm welcome they are given by a southern charmer, the cane-clutching old bear Lotso (Ned Beatty).
Other new toys include a preening Ken doll (Michael Keaton), a theatrical and fabulously-named hedgehog, Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), and the terrifying Big Baby. Along with all the other seemingly endless talents of the filmmakers is their ability to coax out voices that mesh perfectly with their respective characters even though the voices often don’t sound like the actors themselves.
A common theme among the previous “Toy Story” films continues here as Woody concocts a rescue plan and a majority of the film has the feel of a hilarious yet treacherous prison break adventure. Suffice to say “Toy Story 3” contains some of the most frightening moments of any Disney-Pixar collaboration (parents of very young ones be warned), as our heroes end up in serious peril. At the same time the film is also capable of profound and genuine lump-in-your-throat sentimentality.
It’s by now a worn-out verdict: Another masterpiece by Disney-Pixar. And don’t miss the wonderfully inventive pre-film 3D short, “Day & Night.”
3D Review: Well executed, but with a story this good it is not a necessity.