Toy Story 3
Posted by Cantankerous Panda on June 22, 2010
OH MY GOD I AM TOTALLY REVIEWING A MOVIE IMMEDIATELY AFTER ITS OPENING WEEKEND!!!
I had forgotten what a solid franchise Toy Story was until I saw this film on Saturday. It doesn’t necessarily have a prerequisite for the other two films, but seeing them certainly would help to inform this installment. This film has it all–a decent story, enjoyable characters, great humour, content for both adults and children, and even decent tear-jerking and fear evocation. The plot is absolutely solid–the toys are facing a life-changing dilemma as Andy, their owner, is about to head off to college and has to go through his belongings.
The options are: college, attic, or trash. There’s anxiety amongst the toys about being thrown away, especially since they have lost some friends over the years. A fourth option, donation, is also hovering in the background, as Andy’s kid sister starts weeding out some of her old toys (such as her Barbie) into a box marked for Sunnyside Daycare. What better existence for a doll than to dwell forever in a place with an endless amount of children running through the doors?
We get to meet a whole new set of toys in this film, and most are pretty memorable characters. There’s something wonderful about the simplistic humour involved when Barbie meets Ken.
Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton of Batman fame) is part of the ‘in-crowd’ at Sunnyside, along with Stretch (the octopus, voiced by Whoopi Goldberg), Big Baby, ‘The Monkey’, and a host of others. The leader of the crowd is the ‘lovable’ grandfatherly teddy bear, Lotso (voiced by Ned Beatty, who was also in Hopscotch). It is abundantly clear from the start that being a ‘new’ toy at Sunnyside isn’t actually as heavenly as the toys had thought, and it’s confirmed when we realize that Lotso (as in Lots-O-Love Bear) is the Godfather of a playroom mob.
Meanwhile, Woody embarks on an adventure that introduces us to yet even more toys, and they are some of my new favourites. There’s Trixie the triceratops (voiced by Kristen Schaal from ‘Flight of the Conchords’, who has amazing comedic delivery), a set of peas in a pod, Buttercup (voiced by Jeff Garlin of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and who has been in other Pixar films such as WALL-E), Dolly (voiced by Bonnie Hunt, also featured in Pixar films [such as Cars], and who was also in many films such as The Green Mile), and the ever hilarious stuffed porcupine named… Mr. Pricklepants. Mr. Pricklepants (voiced by the incredibly awesome Timothy Dalton, who was in Shaun of the Dead and was also James Bond) is a method actor, and takes playtime rather seriously.
Now that I’ve set up the plot for you, more or less (and probably angered a bunch of people) I want to delve into the characters we have all grown to love. Yes, I’m going to talk a bit about the main toys. We get our fill of the bickering couple, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), which works out rather nicely for the film. I don’t know if they were as integral to the story in the last two films, but they were certainly well-utilized in this one.
Hamm (John Ratzenberger, better known as Cliff from ‘Cheers’, and also notable for being in every Pixar film thus far), Rex (Wallace Shawn from The Princess Bride and Clueless), and Slinky Dog (Blake Clark from a score of bad comedies, including 50 First Dates, but also had a memorable guest spot on the show ‘Community’), and Bullseye the horse are what’s left of the toy crowd, with the exception of the leads. Rex is his typical overly-eager self, Hamm is still snarky, Bullseye is like a puppy and Slink is, well, ‘reliable’ is the best word for him. Then you have the stars: Jessie (Joan Cusack), Buzz (Tim Allen), and Woody (Tom Hanks).
I have to say, I rolled my eyes at part of the premise of this film because it hinged on the idea that Woody would like to his friends for apparently no real reason. Naturally, if everyone had just listened to Woody, they would have been OK. Then again, that would have made the film about 5 minutes long, so clearly that’s a moot point. However, the set-up made Jessie infinitely more annoying and unlikeable than ever before. Woody is Woody, bringing absolutely no surprises along the way. Then we have Buzz, who is arguably the best part of this film.
I’ve always enjoyed Buzz’s bravado mixed with healthy doses of friendship, loyalty, and decency. We get to see a number of different sides of Buzz in this film, and, comedy-wise, he steals the show. Buzz, Mr. Pricklepants, Ken, a character named Chuckles, (voiced by Buck Luckey, a voice actor found in other Pixar films)… I could go on and on about how many different characters and scenes made me laugh out loud, but I’d essentially just be rewriting the screenplay (credit goes out to Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich for that).
Other than the comedy, I thought this film was notable for its scariness, as well. Big Baby and ‘The Monkey’ are by far two of the scariest characters I have ever seen in a Pixar film. I swear to you, Big Baby is what nightmares are made of. Big Baby is why I stopped keeping dolls in my bedroom at a young age. If I were a child in the theatre during some of these scenes, I’d probably end up crying hysterically out of terror.
The film also has a hefty dose of emotion, but it plays really well. I admit, I struggled to keep my tears at bay because I was with a friend at the time and we were in a crowded theatre. I hate being ‘that person’ in the theatre, and I inevitably am. There was one particularly harrowing scene that hit pretty hard, even though we knew things would work out. It was poignant and heartbreaking, and it was in the middle of an animated kids’ film about toys. Lee Unkrich gets another shout-out for directing this film, because there were many different ways that scene could have been captured that would have ended up being less powerful.
Do I recommend this film? Yes! Emphatically yes! It’s surprisingly good. I say ‘surprisingly’ because it’s been so long since the others and I always assume that by the third installment (sometimes even the second), these things get tired. The folks at Pixar absolutely delivered more than I could ever imagine. One thing you might want to know: IMAX 3D is unnecessary for this film (yes, we spent $15+ dollars each on this film). I even think 3D is unnecessary, but I know it’s the ‘cool thing to do’ these days. Either way, I think it’s a fantastic choice for moviegoers of all ages. However, a warning for those who might wish to see it with youngins: I’m not joking about the monkey or the baby. They take that monkey toy and bring it to life in this film. It’s terrifying.
OH! I almost forgot. Pixar films come with a Pixar short film immediately preceding the feature, and this one was so unbelievably brilliant that I am almost looking forward to owning it more so than the film itself. It is called Day & Night, and it is superb. I can’t even describe what it’s about because it’s just too difficult to explain. Though the message gets a little heavy-handed at the end, I think it’s amazing.
Go see Toy Story 3 IMMEDIATELY. You’re welcome.