Toy Story 3 Review

by Homer Yen (homeryen88 AT gmail DOT com)
June 30th, 2010

"Toy Story 3" -- The Toys Are Back in Town
by Homer Yen
(c) 2010

Yes they are...for the most part. Can you believe that "Toy Story 2" came out 11 years ago in 1999? Time has really stood still for these toys. They are just as welcome today as they were when Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) and his friends worked together to thwart the greedy plans of Al the Toy Collector so that they could stay together with their owner, 6-yr old Andy. But today, Andy is no longer a kid. He's grown up and is about ready to go to college. There's no more time for play. And, just as all kids do as they grow up, some of the toys get lost or donated or sold or thrown away. Gone are Bo Peep and Etch-a-Sketch and Wheezy the Penguin among others. Still around are the core toys that we've always had a nostalgic fondness for. Hamm, the Pototo Heads, the slinky dog, and a few others round out the last of Andy's holdings. The question is this: will they be stored in the attic, will they go to college with Andy, or will they wind up in the garbage heap?
Woody/Buzz and friends, as part of their adventure, find themselves in a daycare center. It looks great but the kids are about as destructive as Sid, the kid who wanted to tie an exploding firecracker to Buzz in the original "Toy Story". Without a doubt, this installment is darker than the previous two. They need to escape, but their quest for freedom is thwarted by the tyrannical Lotso (voiced by Ned Beatty), a plush, strawberry-scented teddy bear with serious abandonment issues.
Pixar always bring an undeniable spirit and energy to their animated features. And, there's certainly a lot of that here as the adventure begins to unfold. But, all is not as zippy as the first two. There were a few contributing factors. The initial animated short that we see prior to the main feature was not as engaging as previous shorts. Sure, it was creative and artsy, but it wasn't nearly as fun as...well...ANY of the others. Despite a pretty full theatre, the audience was mostly silent through this one.

Also strange was the film's infatuation with Ken and his Dream House. His inclusion in the film sometimes felt as awkward as the multitude of prissy outfits that he models for Barbie in one of the goofier sequences of the film. Looking at the IMDB website, I learn that Ken wears a total of 21 different outfits. But if you think that's a big number, try 302. According to that website, that's the total number of different characters that populate the film. The film seems cluttered when there are so many toys moving around. The film is the most riveting and the most touching and the most interesting to watch when there are maybe less than 8 toys moving around at the same time.
Now, there are some knee-slapping moments such as when Buzz Lightyear gets reset into Spanish mode. And, there are some genuinely exciting moments such as when the gang must escape a landfill incinerator. And, I definitely felt sad (as did the toys) knowing that Andy wouldn't probably need them anymore. These storytellers sure do know how to push our emotional buttons. And, when I look at my 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter and she looks at her stuffed Minnie Mouse (her fave!), it does make me think a little bit differently about her toys.

Grade: B
S: 0 out of 3
L: 0 out of 3
V: 1 out of 3

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