Thursday, June 24, 2010

TOY STORY 3 / ****

Distributor: Buena Vista
Release Date: June 18, 2010
Genre: Animation
Running Time: 103 minutes
MPAA Rating: G

The summer 2010 movie season was somewhat of a disappointment throughout the month of month of May and early June. After a strong beginning with “Iron Man 2,” other releases like “Robin Hood,” “Shrek Forever After,” “Sex and the City 2,” “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” and “The A-Team” did well but still underperformed. Or take a look at “MacGruber” and “Jonah Hex,” which set new standards of ineptitude in terms of reaching an audience. (Really the only pleasant surprise, both critically and commercially has been “The Karate Kid).

Then, like the proverbial flower that grew out of the pot of dirt that is the summer 2010 movie season, “Toy Story 3” has arrived in theaters to reinforce the fact that Pixar is the greatest movie studio of all time. In the three summers previous to this one, Pixar released “Ratatouille,” “WALL-E,” and “Up.” I challenge any other studio to equal that kind of streak. Sadly, next year “Cars 2” seems poised to break the streak just like the original “Cars” did in 2006.

I believe “Toy Story 3” has been successful thus far because it presents a story that is compelling and worth telling. Over a decade after we left Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang, they are coming to terms with the fact that Andy (John Morris) is 17 now, well past the age of playing with toys. Woody holds out hope that Andy will take care of them no matter what, while the others are less optimistic, thinking that they will likely be thrown away. This is where Pixar shows their brilliance – anyone could come up with a movie about anthropomorphized toys, but only Pixar would make the toys existentially cognizant of their purpose.

Andy means to pack Woody is his going to college box, and everyone else is going to go to the attic. However, his mom (Laurie Metcalf) mistakes the bag for trash, and sets them out on the curb. Woody tries to explain the mistake, but the rest of the toys aren’t buying it. They think Andy wanted to get rid of them, so they sneak their way into the Donation Box on its way to Sunnyside Day Care.

Woody of course goes back to Andy, but the rest of the toys decide to stay. They are greeted by a strawberry scented hugging bear named Lotso (Ned Beatty), who promises that this will be the best thing that ever happened to them. Of course it doesn’t take long for Lotso to reveal his true colors, a sadistic tyrant who projects his anger at being left behind on everyone else.

In addition to Lotso, “Toy Story 3” introduces several other memorable new characters. In addition to the returning Jessie (Joan Cusack), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Rex (Wallace Shawn), and Hamm (John Ratzenberger), this story introduces audiences to Mr. Pricklepants (a hilarious turn by Timothy Dalton), Dolly (Bonnie Hunt), Trixie (Kristen Schaal), and Barbie’s destined-to-be boyfriend Ken (played with scene-stealing hilarity by Michael Keaton).

Director Lee Unkrich (who co-directed “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and “Finding Nemo”) navigates the characters through a “Great Escape” style jailbreak, and deftly handles several intense action sequences that could be a little scary for the very young. The scenes are so well crafted that I was totally buying the notion that the ending to the film would not be a happy one, and then I was completely moved to tears by the beautiful coda.

“Toy Story 3” has already shot up the number seven on the Internet Movie Data Base Top 250 list, and is nearly assured to become the second straight Pixar film to be nominated for Best Picture as well as become the fourth straight Pixar film to win the Best Animated Film Oscar.

In addition to likely reaping loads of individual accolades, “Toy Story 3” completes what has to be considered one of the greatest trilogies in cinema history. These movies will never be outgrown.

Theater: Rave Motion Pictures Westroads 14, Omaha, NE
Time: Approximately 130 am
Date: June 17, 2010 (quality check)

Theater: AMC Star Council Bluffs 17, Council Bluffs, IA
Time: 1:45 PM (IMAX)
Date: June 19, 2010


  1. I can't wait to see this, though truth be told, I had the oposite feelings as you on the recent run of Pixar films. I know that I was in the minority but I thought that Ratatoulie and Wall-E were robo-boring and that Up! was merely okay. I also really enjoyed Cars.

  2. Maybe you would fit in better in Alabama than I will. :)