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Worth A Look: 15.28%
Average: 1.39%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4.17%

6 reviews, 36 user ratings

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Toy Story 3
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by Erik Childress

"The Circle Of Life Is Now Complete"
5 stars

Writing about a film like Toy Story 3 is what occasionally makes my job the often-put "coolest in the world." Getting a chance to revisit this film and this series in any capacity is joy personified and reinforces the hope that someone out there in movie land still cares. From the feature-length introduction of a company called Pixar to only its third film where it was already rehashing old characters, the makers behind Toy Story may have turned their attention to other projects, but some 15 years later have clearly not forgotten what makes their original babies so special. These three films make up more than just a trilogy. Just as Hakuna Matata played in Andy's car as the family was moving away, it was the start of a true circle of life that may end as the credits roll here but, as all good souls do, finds a way to begin again in a film that is every bit as wonderful as its predecessors.

Once again our beloved toys are faced with a crossroads in their existence. First it was being replaced with a new toy. Then it was being forgotten by their owners altogether. Now their boy is all growns up. Andy is going away to college and cleaning out the room. Some toys will go in the attic. Others will end up in the trash. Woody (Tom Hanks), still the eternal optimist, tries to convince the rest that no matter what happens they have a responsibility to always be there for their boy. Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) is more accepting of his fate and is looking forward to a warm existence up above with his friends. Things don't go according to plan though and everyone ends up donated to the Sunnydale Day Care center.

Headed up by Lotso (Ned Beatty) the cuddly, purple hugging bear, the toys would seem to have it made in the shade. A whole new group of kids to be played with. And when they get older, no worries, because there's another new class right behind them. Woody however was on the fast track to attend college with Andy as his singular piece of childhood memorabilia and means to escape. What he discovers on the outside though is that his friends may not have wound up in shangri-la; a fact Buzz and company learn the hard way with tykes whose imaginations have not formed past hitting, throwing and licking. Barbie (The Little Mermaid's Jodi Benson) may have proverbally and literally found her Ken (Michael Keaton), but Sunnydale is clearly not the dream house they had in mind.

Striking me now less than a day removed from my first viewing of the film is just how jam-packed the film is. And in a good way. Most films can be overstuffed and extend their running time towards two-and-a-half hours. Toy Story 3 manages to do it in a little over 90 minutes and manages all its characters, plot threads and themes so effortlessly it should awarded sainthood for all the miracles it pulls off. Right off the bat, the character list is downsized. Don't worry we still have cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack), piggy bank Hamm (John Ratzenberger), dinosaur Rex (Wallace Shawn), Slinky Dog (Blake Clark) and Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles & Estelle Harris). But others like Bo Peep and Etch-a-Sketch have been sold and toy soldier Sarge (R. Lee Ermey) knows when the war is over for him and his men. For other green toys though, it is just beginning.

Sacrificing a few minor characters though opens the door for some new ones. Toy Story 3 doesn't just replace though, they triple up on the additions. Beyond the memorable impressions left by Lotso and Ken, there is also a side trip to another little girl's collection of toys including My Little Pony's Buttercup (Jeff Garlin) and the classically-trained toy actor, Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton); the Fisher-Price telephone and an scene-stealing clown that may each hold the keys to escape; plus all the toys in the Sunnyside playroom, each making a distinct impression as if knowing they existed to serve some purpose no matter how small. How many comic book films have we seen where so many heroes and villains had to be introduced in follow-up chapters that it lost grasp of its primary bunch, not to mention the flow of its narrative? Toy Story 3 loses sight of nothing and only ratchets up its objectives with a heart-stroking mixture of breathless laughter and seizing action.

In some respects, one can look upon Toy Story 3 as following the same template. Establish a new time for the characters, separate them for a long journey home as they discover new things about themselves and their place in the world, then conclude the adventure with an elaborate set piece to safety. Even those so shortsighted amongst us to reduce the film to these bare elements will be unable to deny the work that director Lee Unkrich and Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine screenwriter Michael Arndt have done to juice it with so many inventive concepts and maintaining the deeper themes that have reverberated throughout this franchise. From the petty jealousy and childlike fear of not being loved as much to watching the growing pains of a teenager lead to finding a new life without us, the third film now introduces the end of the road and the uncertain promise of a life hereafter. Watching the warm welcome of Sunnydale and the promise that happiness is an everyday occurrence brings with it the troubling stigma of an assisted living society; a gathering of donated citizens left behind to be someone else's problem.

Harsh truths like that are what establishes the Toy Story films as a timeless collection of exemplary cinema for every age. But the hilarious manner in which it honors that cinema without becoming just a string of pop culture references is why we will return to it again and again. Instead of languishing its characters into a scenario of self-pity, it becomes the most thoroughly enjoyable prison flick since The Great Escape. Only people who truly adore movies could find ways to blend elements of Cool Hand Luke with Temple of Doom and continue riffing the arc of Empire and Jedi without basking them with an instant recognition. Whether the jury sees Buzz's hidden Spanish mode as a shot back at the Shrek series' inclusion of Puss-in-Boots as the dominating force of its sequels or if Mystery Science Theater 3000 was an inspiration for its evil cymbal-banging monkey guard is anybody's guess. But if they are versed enough to include an actual baby doll as part of a tribute to brutish, but childlike, henchmen then anything is possible. And in the Toy Story world, anything usually is.

If WALL-E, arguably, remains Pixar's coup de grace, then all three Toy Story films are tied for a very close second. Separating one from the other is very much like picking your favorite child. Each film is part of a greater whole, creating its own unique adventure but feeding into a greater truth that generations are going to be able to pass down. We are long beyond praising Pixar for its visual ingenuity. They are in the territory of all-time acclaim now, mastering the approval-challenged task of creating sequels that honor the original instead of aligning pockets. As tempting as it will be to want a Toy Story 4, it would be disappointing to watch all the effort put into spinning our emotions through each successive climax, including a nearly soul-shattering moment where Buzz, Woody and the rest accept their forthcoming fate, go for naught. Toy Story 3 flawlessly hits every rhythm down the stretch and should go down as the most emotionally fulfilling trilogy since Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. Maybe even moreso.

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originally posted: 06/18/10 15:00:00
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User Comments

2/15/15 guena i watch this movie like a shit 1 stars
1/05/15 dshjhgd very childish movie 1 stars
12/04/14 Ayana Pendergrass This movie made me like a kid again and gave me just what I wanted and expected! 5 stars
11/13/14 Mario is the Best WORST TOY STORY MOVIE EVER!!!!!!! But I liked the first two. 1 stars
11/07/12 Lia M I don't think think it was as good as the first two movies, but I still enjoyed it. 4 stars
10/23/12 Roshawn Rochester I can't tell a lie about this movie. I cried at the incinerator scene!!! 5 stars
8/29/12 Mireya love this movie 4 stars
5/28/12 Stefani K Love it, but get the kleenex ready. 5 stars
3/06/12 Marty Great kids movie with fun and meaning to older viewers as well. Like TS1 more 4 stars
1/13/12 Isaac A moving and thoroughly satisfying conclusion to the best film animated series of all time. 5 stars
10/19/11 Magic Starts slow, turns into an exciting prison movie. A perfect end to a stellar trilogy. 5 stars
10/18/11 C.M. Chan Great. Breaks the “third part of a trilogy” curse. 5 stars
10/02/11 Quigley A prime example of filmmakers achieving the impossible. Such a beautiful film 5 stars
8/08/11 WENDY Possibly the best in the series 5 stars
8/01/11 Piz Watched it with my 3-year olds and we all loved it. Truly Awesome family film 5 stars
6/18/11 Jennifer Barr truely amazing....we all loved it! 5 stars
4/18/11 millersxing Pixar directors have amazing artistic vision...I'm blown away by the consistent creativity. 5 stars
4/18/11 Dorothy Rozdilsky watched it once but not my cup of tea 3 stars
3/28/11 Ionicera It topped Wall-E. Wow! 5 stars
11/22/10 mr.mike A winner. As good as ! and 2? No. 4 stars
10/29/10 Rolly Hyatt This movie took my heart, crushed it, and then glued it back together. 5 stars
10/17/10 Julie Lutz I was amazed they are keeping the the story going so wonderfully 5 stars
8/22/10 Kim Dobbertin I loved it but it was sad when the toys were left behind. 5 stars
8/04/10 Lana Best movie of the summer, if not the year. Perfect blend of humor and heart, 5 stars
8/02/10 Dr.Lao Everything that made the first two Tay Story's great x10! 5 stars
7/31/10 Cheryl W. AWESOME! I can now die happy knowing I saw the best! 5 stars
7/31/10 MP Bartley It was just something in my eye at the end, honest... 5 stars
7/29/10 AliceLover Absolutely perfect! 5 stars
7/29/10 Angie Warbell No matter how cynical life has turned you, this one will touch your heart. 5 stars
7/28/10 ALICE SUPER very very good ! 5 stars
7/07/10 ES Enjoyed it but my 5 yr-old was eager to leave by the end. A nice finish to the series 4 stars
6/29/10 Flounder A beautiful send-off. Pixar's streak of excellence (astoundingly) continues. 5 stars
6/22/10 Mark Wonderful, A plus 5 stars
6/22/10 Pim So sweet, adorable & lovely! I understand how the toys feel. No one wants be to abandoned. 5 stars
6/20/10 Justin It was great. 5 stars
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  18-Jun-2010 (G)
  DVD: 02-Nov-2010


  DVD: 02-Nov-2010

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