Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Premise: When their owner prepares to move to college, the toys are donated to a daycare center. Once there, they are subjugated by stuffed bear Lotso (voice of Ned Beatty) and his gang. Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) leads an escape attempt to reunite the toys with their owner.
What Works: Toy Story 3 continues the fun and adventure of the previous Toy Story films and brings the series to a very satisfying conclusion. Like any good sequel, this film expands the palate of the story, deepening some of the relationships, allowing the themes to mature, and departing from the familiar settings and scenarios of the previous Toy Story films. This particular entry is a little bolder than other animated fare. Toy Story 3 is structured very much like a prison film and incorporates some of that genre’s themes and scenarios. There are a few harrowing moments in the climax that pay off well for the story and the filmmakers deserve credit for not dumbing the film down to appeal to overprotective notions about what kind of intensity children can tolerate. Like other Pixar films, the animated performances expand beyond the limitations of the medium and render characters of emotional depth that rival performances of flesh and blood actors in other movies. That has been and continues to be the strength of the Toy Story franchise, and the third installment gets to some authentic moments about growing up and letting go.
What Doesn’t: Toy Story 3 takes a while to get going and for the first half of the film there is a sense of familiarity, as though we’ve seen all of this before. That passes in the second half but with the way this film ends, it is probably time to retire Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the Toy Story gang.
Bottom Line: Toy Story 3 is another excellent film from Pixar and a fine conclusion to the Toy Story franchise.
Episode: #294 (June 27, 2010)