Who loves Toy Story? Actually, who doesn’t love Toy Story? Adored by kids, adults and critics alike, the series is truly a tour de force in filmmaking history. The original, being the first feature to come out of the legendary Pixar Animation Studios, revolutionised the way animated films were made, and the sequel demonstrated that another instalment in a film franchise does not necessarily mean a dip in quality. If you don’t love them, I’m afraid to tell you that you have no soul. Yes, I’m talking to you, Armond White.
The third episode obviously had a lot to live up to and the chances of mass disappointment were immensely high after the astonishing praise the series has received thus far. Then again, it is Pixar we’re talking about here, so, taking this into account, the chances of dissatisfaction become practically zero.
It’s been 11 years since Toy Story 2, and Andy (John Morris) is about to leave for college. He’s all but forgotten about his once beloved, now neglected toys, who are desperate for the 17 year old to play with them again just like he did when he was a youngster. They’re the figurine equivalents of Michael Jackson and Pope Benedict XVI.
Although intended to go up in the attic, Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang accidentally end up at the Sunnyside Daycare. It seems a perfect place where they will be constantly played with by groups of cute little toddlers, along with a whole bunch of other toys led by cuddly pink bear Lotso (Ned Beatty). “First thing you gotta know about me, I’m a hugger,” he says. Aawwwrr.
However, things soon take a rather sinister turn and it comes to light that Sunnyside Daycare may not be the toy palace our gang thinks it is. Woody becomes determined to break them outta there by any means possible to get back to Andy, but this proves harder than one would think.
You’ve really got to admire Pixar, you can tell they put a heck of a lot of work into each film they assemble. Not to say that this is not true for Dreamworks’, their recent pictures such as How To Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda were both first-class flicks. But Pixar, in my opinion, will always come out on top when compared to other animation studios out there.
Toy Story 3 is unmistakable evidence of this, it’s undoubtedly one of their most beautiful productions yet. I would say that it is on par with its predecessor, Toy Story 2, in terms of entertainment value, and Wall-E in terms of visuals and its moving nature.
The attention to detail in the animation is phenomenal, far superior to any other animated film I have ever seen. The characters’ movements are perfectly coordinated, adding to the film’s stunning look. Although I saw the film in 2D, I’m sure the 3D would work marvellously and give it that extra oomph.
The character designs are spectacular, brilliantly befitting the powerful personalities of each toy. With most of the characters being children’s playthings, much creativity is in the animator’s grasp and as expected, they have taken full advantage of this. As well as our usual heroes, there are teddy bears, a rubber octopus, a creepy looking doll, a Chatter Telephone, a Jack-in-the-box, a Musical Jolly Chimp, and many, many others.
Aside from our regular inanimate protagonists, my favourite character has to be the famous Ken, voiced by the superb Michael Keaton. He’s a hilariously vain, fashion-obsessed plastic doll who provides numerous laughs throughout the film with his intense egotism and smooth-talking demeanour. He quickly and inevitably falls for the dimwitted Barbie (Jodi Benson), whom he meets once Woody and pals arrive at the daycare centre, with uproarious results.
Tim Allen and Tom Hanks are as fabulous as ever, reprising their roles as spaceman Buzz Lightyear and cowboy Woody. They are both outstanding voice performers, they really make the characters what they are and bring them to a level of lovability unseen in most films.
Each of the supporting cast is on excellent form too, with regulars Joan Cusack as Jessie, Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, Wallace Shawn as Rex, John Ratzenberger as Hamm and Estelle Harris as Mrs. Potato Head. Blake Clarke has replaced Jim Varney as Slinky Dog, although I actually didn’t notice this. Ned Beatty is fantastic as Lotso with his gentle Southern accent aiding in the character’s affable attitude.
The film is a substantially touching one and in the end becomes a tearjerker. There’s one particular scene which made my eyes well up a little and the end sequence had a similar effect. We’ve been with these characters since 1995, we’ve gotten to know them so well and we feel so much for them. There are quite a few moments which should stir up those defenceless emotions of yours.
The comedy works splendidly and should be enough to tickle your ribs until you let out a loud giggle. A sequence where Buzz’s system is reset and he turns into a flirtatious, dancing Spaniard is exceedingly chuckle-worthy, as well as when Barbie tries to get information out of Ken by ripping up his prized collection of clothes.
Toy Story 3 is an incredibly sweet movie which should be enjoyed by both kids and adults. It’s funny, it’s touching, the animation is dazzling and the voice work is top-notch. It shows that Pixar is the supreme king of the animation jungle. Dreamworks is the squirrel.
Ten outta ten.