Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Ned Beatty, John Ratzenberger, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Joan Cusack, Michael Keaton
Director: Lee Unkrich
Toy Story 3 has finally hit theaters, and take note: this one isn’t aimed at kids. The explanation is after the jump.
Toy Story first hit back in 1995, and took the world by surprise. The landmark film, arguably the first entirely CGI feature film, was a phenomenon that took the box office by storm, and it’s 1999 sequel fared just as well. Now, 11 years after it’s first installment, the toys return as their owner, Andy, is preparing to leave for college. Facing abandonment, the toys escape to a local daycare, but soon find that all is not as it seems, as they must fight their way back to their owner.
The story hits all the right notes. These are the characters you know and love, in every sense of the term. The first 10 minutes of the film, revealed later to be a flashback, are a hyper stylized and mildly updated reenactment of a scene from the original Toy Story, in which the toys participate in a wild west shootout. It’s a callback that invokes a smile on your face, and brings back memories of my own childhood, when Toy Story was brand new and the hottest thing on the block. The addition of new toys (including the flamboyant Ken voiced by Michael Keaton and the amusing Mr. Pricklepants voiced by Timothy Dalton) serves to round out the cast and create a combination of tension and drama among characters old and new.
Unlike the previous two installments, however, this one carries with it a dark side as well. The scenes set inside Sunnyside Daycare are more like a prison movie than Toy Story, but never gets too dark that kids will be frightened. The characterization, as well as the return of the classic Buzz Lightyear persona and a new spanish Buzz manage to juggle the story with enough laughs that you never find yourself depressed, but you will be occasionally wondering if this really is as dark as it seems.
In short, as I mentioned above, Toy Story 3 isn’t for the kids. It’s for us. The movie, while still made with kids in mind, attempts to capture the audience of those of us who truly have been waiting 11 years to see it. A rare exception, Toy Story 3 manages to actually surpass it’s predecessor and, much like Disney/Pixar’s last work Up, manages to hit a few heartstrings and leave you in a feel good state, although some of the more sensitive types may find themselves having a good cry at the films final 10 minutes, a heartwrenching affair that wraps up the Toy Story trilogy in what is easily the best possible way. Whether you’re new to the franchise, or were in the theater opening day 11 years ago, Toy Story 3 is a must-see film, and arguably the best one of the summer so far.