Saturday, May 25, 2013

Movie Review: Toy Story 3

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Comedy and a good story
Cons: A bit of recycling of plot points and themes
The Bottom Line:
A great third movie
Toy Story comes full circle
This should be the end

If Andy Goes to College, What Will Become of His Toys?

When the original Toy Story came out in 1995, I wanted to see it just because it was the first computer animated movie.  But I left the theater in love with all things Pixar.  They haven't let me down yet, but I will admit I was a little worried about Toy Story 3 since sequels don't usually hold up.  I don't know why I was worried; this is Pixar.  The movie is wonderful.

Time has passed for our friends in Andy's room, and Andy (still voiced by John Morris) is getting ready to go to college.  Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and the gang that is left haven't been played with in ages.  Some of our friends have even left at yard sales over the years.

Andy is trying to figure out what to do with the toys he still has when, through a misunderstanding, they think he has thrown them away.  They quickly donate themselves to the Sunnyside Day Care Center.  While they are thrilled at the prospect of being played with again, the center has a dark side, too.  Will they survive their new home?  Will they ever learn that Andy wasn't trying to throw them away?

The movie starts right out with play time that reminds us of the first two movies.  I had a smile on my face within minutes.  And that smile continued as the movie progressed.

Yes, this is a comedy, and I was laughing pretty hard at some of the scenes.  In fact, I would guess that the adults were laughing more than the kids.  The scenes between Ken (Michael Keaton) and Barbie (Jodi Benson) were hysterical.  Plus there's what happens to Buzz (if you've seen the trailers, you know what I'm talking about).  And 10 points to anyone who can catch the Scooby Doo reference.

But I was also caught up in the story.  Things got bogged down for a few minutes in the middle, but it wasn't long before I was fully caught up in the story again.  The climax wasn't quite as complex as some of Pixar's climaxes-that-will-not-quit have been in the past, it did still provide several unforeseen complications that kept me on the edge of my seat.  That is when I wasn't laughing at how they worked something from the very first movie into the climax.

The voice cast was wonderful once again.  While Andy is still a minor character, I love the fact that they still used John Morris for his voice.  The only actor they changed was Blake Clark who took over for his friend, the late Jim Varney, as Slinky Dog.  It was only after the movie was over that I questioned just how much Slinky said, but when he was talking, I never noticed a difference in the actor's voice.

There were times I missed the ensemble characters who were written out of the film.  Fortunately, the movie got going quickly and moved at such a steady pace that I didn't have time to mourn their loss for long.  Plus we get a lot of great new characters who do help fill things out.

One reason sequels can disappoint is because they will just re-dress the same plot from the first movie.  While a few of the plot elements here did feel recycled, I always felt like we were watching something that was a truly new effort.  The themes definitely felt recycled, although they did continue to build on them here like they did in the first sequel.  Some retreading is bound to happen, but I felt like they did a good job of keeping it to a minimum and instead building on what we have already seen.

What was not recycled was the animation.  You can definitely tell a difference between the first and second movie.  Well, that's nothing compared to how things look here.  The humans look so much better than the first one.  There are only a couple of shots that will blow you away (and I didn't watch it in 3D), but it all looked great to me.

Parents might want to know that a couple of scenes get intense and might frighten young kids.  The one sitting next to me didn't seem to have any problems, but you can judge your kids best.  They also have a very small part with sub-titles.  That seems a bit strange to me for a movie aimed at kids, but I can't complain too loudly since I was laughing so hard at those parts.

Which brings us to the ending.  I'm not going to give anything away, don't worry.  All I want to say is it is very bittersweet.  A friend who saw it opening night recommended bring tissue.  I wish I had listened to him.  This grown man had very wet eyes by the time it was over, but I wouldn't have changed a thing.  It was absolutely perfect.

As much as I have loved these characters, I do hope they stop here.  We've had a great ride, but this one provides some good closure.  I feel like Toy Story 3 brings things full circle.  I know I'll be watching it many more times to come.

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