Published Jun 17, 2010Pixar Animation returns to the box of toys that launched their studio empire with this third (and seemingly final) instalment of Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the hodgepodge collection of toys played with by Andy, their human and raison d'être.
But in the last ten years, Andy has grown up and is off to college, leaving the toys in a tizzy: will they end up in the attic, or worse, in the curbside trash? Actually, donated to a local day-care is where they end up, and at first it seems an idyllic wonder of toy heaven ― loved and played with all day long by needy kids with plenty of affection to share, in a world of perpetual childhood where no kids outgrow their toys. At least, that's the sales pitch offered by Lotsa Huggin Bear (Ned Beatty). It turns out that Lotsa rules the day-care with a plush purple fist, with abandoned, creepy baby dolls and menacing b-list action figures as his minions.
In its story beats and scenarios, Toy Story 3 is treading familiar territory, to a certain extent ― the toys want to maintain the community they've built together, constantly hatching rescue missions and escape plans to recover stragglers and overcome their challenging circumstances. Adult themes of childhood wonder and adult responsibility continue to flow through these films, and Toy Story 3 ― in the jeopardy that its characters face ― doesn't shy away from some dark and challenging moments of frightening risk.
The nature of various toys is mined for great comedy once again, this time in the form of Barbie companion/accessory Ken, who lives the bachelor life in his "dream home" at the day-care, largely unaware of the hole that Barbie's absence has caused since they've never met. When they do, and Ken finally has the opportunity to showcase several decades of period-specific outfits, that montage is one of many Toy Story delights. Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear discovers a new side of his programming, and the tiny green squeakers from the first movie's claw machine make a delightful return.
By maintaining a visual style consistent with the first Toy Story, this third instalment doesn't have as much in the way of visual wow ― despite being offered in 3D ― but the traditional short film that accompanies it, Day & Night, is one of the best 2D/3D animation combinations yet created, featuring a pair of 2D animated characters through which an entire 3D world can be seen.
Before Pixar was bought by Disney, a straight-to-DVD Toy Story sequel was already in the works (since Disney owned the character rights); it's only right and proper that Pixar itself has shepherded these characters through a final instalment that honours the series and gives them a heartfelt, and tearful, goodbye. (Pixar/Disney)