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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Toy Story 3

Title: Toy Story 3

Year of Release: 2010

Date Viewed: June 24th, 2010

MPAA Rating: G

The remaining toys yet to be sold at Andy's garage sale are back in the third and most likely final chapter in Pixar's flagship Toy Story franchise. Get ready for an emotional roller coaster with this one, folks. Pixar may have outdone themselves here.

This story begins with a then-and-now retrospective as we see home video footage of Andy Davis (voice of John Morris) using his favorite toys to create exciting scenarios of cops, robbers and green aliens. Fast forward to the present day; Andy is a grown teenager bound for college packing up his belongings for the big trip. The big question: what will happen to his beloved toys that haven't been played with in years? Many have already moved on to other places through yard sales (i.e. Bo Peep). Others saw the writing on the wall (the green Army men) and already ventured off to other places. This leaves the most loyal toys still hoping for one last day of playtime adventure to ponder their destiny.

In franchise tradition, our protagonists find themselves in a big mix-up. Andy's mother accidentally packs up the toys bound for the attic into her donation box to Sunnyside Daycare. With the exception of Woody (voice of Tom Hanks), the toys feel betrayed since they believed they were not even valued enough to live in the attic and that the mistake was intentional. Upon arrival at Sunnyside, the toys are greeted by veteran resident Lotso (voice of Ned Beatty). Lotso explains that Sunnyside is a toy's paradise. The place is always populated by happy children that sit around and play with toys all day. When the children grow older, they are replaced by more children. Toys never get abandoned and will always find fun companions here. The protagonists embrace their new home but Woody refuses to go along with it, insisting that they are still the property of Andy and they owe it to him to return home.

Life at Sunnyside does not turn out to be as pleasant as the fantasy promises. The children play far too rough with the toys, leaving them too battered to be happy. Suddenly the attic doesn't seem so bad. Lotso and his right-hand man Ken (voice of Michael Keaton) explain that they need to pay their dues and work their way up the system of government in order to be around the gentler kids. Too bad Sunnyside operates more like a prison than a government. Finding this second-rate treatment unacceptable, the heroes conduct a plan to find their way home before Andy moves away.

The best thing about Toy Story 3 is its unpredictable nature. That attribute is hard to come by in family films. It is evidence to the point I wanted to make in my "Spy Next Door" review; that family films do not have to insult the adults' intelligence. The plot is never clearly outlined as to what the good toys' final fate would be. They want to return to Andy's attic, but is that really the happy ending everyone is looking for?

The Sunnyside escape sequence can rival the best live action heist films for its cleverness. Characters are still loyally explored by the screenwriters who clearly have an affection towards them. Each one is given importance to the outcome. Let's make one thing clear before we move on: This is not a "cash-in" sequel. The utmost care is given to how the themes develop and its relation to the previous films. It is made not only to entertain but also to hit home for its target audience. Young children, you say? Guess again.

All the nail-biting action and drama is rewarded with a grand finale. And what a finale it is. My tears almost flooded my 3D glasses to the point where I had to clean it off. Speaking of which, I do recommend seeing the movie in 3D. The animation is crisp smooth without any signs of sloppy last-minute editing. On top of that, the toys look even more realistic like you're right in the room with them.

Pixar has accomplished something amazing with Toy Story 3. They made a great stand-alone film. And even better than that, they created a franchise that is made to speak to the child, adolescent and young adult in all of us through the course of three different films. Instead of re-inventing itself to appeal to a new generation of young audiences, Pixar did the smart thing and aimed their product to the same audience that watched the original Toy Story in 1995. Most were children then. Now as adults, they can truly appreciate Toy Story 3 for its illustration of growing up and leaving the toy world behind.

Toy Story is the movie for young children that need toys to occupy their time as a child.

Toy Story 2 is the movie for older children that still have a wild imagination and love their toys for their true value over their E-BAY value.

Toy Story 3 is the movie for children now grown-up who no longer need toys and may not realize how much the toys need them.

Rating: 10

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