Movie Review: Toy Story 3

Featuring the Voice Talents of: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Timothy Dalton
Directed By: Lee Unkrich
Written By: Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Pixar Animation, 2010
G; 103 minutes
5 stars (out of 5)


No one does nostalgia quite like Pixar. The team there--writers, animators, directors, producers--all seem to understand the process of looking over one's shoulder at the past and the warm feelings that can engender. Perhaps it's part of being in the animation business, which itself has a long history and by nature builds on what came before. Pixar has looked back at "Main Street U.S.A." in Cars and it's done revisited childhood repeatedly in the first two Toy Story movies as well as Monsters, Inc. And in Toy Story 3 they do it again.

For all that, it never gets old.

Being that I have a 5-year-old son, a 2-year-old daughter, and a 10-month-old baby boy, I am perhaps primed for the emotional overdrive that Pixar serves up in the third Toy Story installment. The opening moments feature a young Andy and his little sister Molly playing with their beloved toys in home video footage. This hits so close to home in my current experiences that I could not help but tear up a bit. And then it is revealed that Andy is now 17 and going away to college. Those beloved toys--the ones we the audience have become so fond of over previous films--have been whittled down to a core few that haven't been played with in years. They sit unused in a toy chest in Andy's room, plotting ways to get Andy's attention in the hopes of being played with again, or maybe just held for a few moments.

As Andy readies himself for college, he begins to empty out his room, and the toy story really begins. Will they be consigned to the attic or (*gulp*) the trash bin? Mishaps occur and the toys end up donated to a day care center, thus setting off on new adventures.

I won't give anything else away, but while I didn't 100% understand the day care center toys' motivations for doing some of what they do in the film, I did 100% enjoy the movie. And I did cry some more at the end.

As for my 5-year-old (who saw the movie with my husband and I), he says he liked it, but he "likes the other numbers better" (meaning the first two films). This may only be because of the 3D element involved in this one, though, since my son says he didn't like things "going in his eyes." I could have done without the 3D myself, as I didn't find it necessary to the story or even particularly amazing in design. Mostly it gave me a headache.

But the movie itself was touching and fun, which is what I've come to expect from Pixar. Like Peter Pan in Never Never Land, the animation studio roots itself in a refusal to grow up (in heart, though its technique only gets better with time), and in turn the audience keeps coming back if only to feel young again themselves.

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