Toy Story 3

Director    Lee Unkrich
Starring    Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Joan Cusack, John Ratzenberger, Timothy Dalton, Kristen Schall
Release    18 JUN (US) 19 JUL (UK)    Certificate U
5 stars


15th July 2010

On behalf of my other reviewers, I'd like to ask Pixar to give us a break. I mean, come on, it's not exactly easy to review a Pixar movie these days. Okay, it's easy, but it requires a vocabulary far beyond the norm. How many ways are there to say something is excellent? Hey gang, let's find out together.

Toy Story 3, a sequel four or fifteen years in the making depending on how you look at it, rounds out the Toy Story Trilogy; without a doubt the greatest animated movie series ever made. Co-director of Toy Story 2, Director Lee Unkrich has been with Woody, Buzz and the Round Up gang since working as an editor on Toy Story proper back in 1994. When you realise how much of his life has been connected with the toys, you understand how and why Toy Story 3 is such a clear and fond farewell, and deals so much with maturing and letting go of things you once loved with all your heart.

[gallery]Pixar love their opening sequences, from WALL-E's silent solitary clean-up, to the heartbreaking beauty of married life in Up. Toy Story 3 is no exception, throwing us into a breathtaking adventure of orphans, aliens and colossal 3D explosions then throwing on the brakes, montage-ing through time 'til we're in 17-year-old Andy's room alone.

It's a marvellously handled segue from the second film to the third, where we find the gang depleted down to the bare bones. Many familiar faces from the first two films have gone the way of the charity shop or sidewalk sale, and the core gang members left know full well that their fate is either the attic or the garbage.

Because he is his best friend, and because cowboys are seemingly the most loyal beings on Earth, Woody is convinced Andy won't leave them. And he's right, but in a farcical mix up that almost has you shouting at the screen, the gang (minus Woody who is off to college with Andy) end up at a kiddy daycare centre.

This seems like a Utopia, with new friends and the chance to be played with forever and ever, but the fašade doesn't long. As new toys, they are forced by the nefarious, if cuddly, Lots-o-Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty) to be played with by the insane, torturous toddlers. Toy Story 3 is as good an advertisement for contraception as I've ever seen.

With Woody gone, and Buzz incapacitated by Lots-o's henchmen, how will the gang escape? Dun dun duuuuuuuun! Well, you'll have to go and see it to find out. And it's worth every inflated 3D penny, it really is. There's childish humour, clever lines, genuine scares and two or three emotional scenes that grab your heartstrings and play them like the Devil's in Georgia. Whilst as a main antagonist, Lots-o initially comes across as a hastily re-written Stinky Pete, there's lots-o more to him than meets the eye.

Two other revelations in this story are the pre-ordained lovers Barbie and Ken; Barbie (Jodi Benson) has a lot more moxy than she gets credit for (actually, she's pretty much the brains of the outfit), and Ken is played by an almost unrecognisably fabulous Michael Keaton. In fact the voice casting is brilliant, with little vocal cameos scattered around everywhere - maybe because they all know it's the last one, and wanted to get a piece of the Toy Story pie while they still could. In fact, that's one of the few drawbacks to the movie, at times you find yourself playing "place the voice", and it can be a tad distracting.

The animation, as always, is beautiful - perhaps the 3D doesn't always give as much depth to the picture as you'd hope, but it's a movie that will translate just fine to the smaller screens and retain the richness and detail that Pixar are known for.

All in all, Toy Story 3 is a brilliant movie with something for everyone which really ties up any loose ends. You'll take comfort as the credits roll in knowing that even though we all grow up in the end, a part of your childhood will never be forgotten and someone out there, no matter how much stuffing they've lost, will always love you to infinity and beyond.

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