A Man and His Movies

‘Toy Story 3’ Movie Review: Final ‘Story’ pulls at heart strings

By Sean Harris ’11
THE ROUNDUP

Jessie, from left, Buzz Lightyear and Woody in a scene from "Toy Story 3." (Courtesy Disney/Pixar/MCT)

It’s been a long road, but “Toy Story 3” is finally here and ready to captivate young and old for a third time.

It’s true that Pixar has earned the respect of audiences, never truly making a bad film. Ever. However, the announcement of “Toy Story 3” made some people nervous – and for good reason.

The number of good trilogies in the movie world could be counted on one hand; and there are too many bad trilogies too count. And adding one more film to a series that was perfectly good is never a good idea (see “Godfather Part III”).

June 18 arrived with a sigh of relief; audiences will wonder why they ever doubted Pixar in the first place. “Toy Story 3” is a gigantic summer hit, as sentimental as it is funny, and worthy of the name the trilogy has created for itself.

The plot of “Toy Story 3” begins long after the conclusion of the second film. Andy (John Morris), the kid who used to play with all of his favorite toys, has now outgrown them.

More than that, he is going off to college, and needs to decide what to do with the toys still left after the numerous yard sales and spring cleanings.

Their possible fates aren’t pleasant, either involving neglect for years in the attic or being tossed out to the dump.

Only Woody (Tom Hanks), Andy’s favorite toy, has the possibility of going off to college with him, even while Woody is trying to keep Buzz (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack) and what’s left of the gang together.

Through a mix-up done in classic “Toy Story” fashion, Andy’s toys are donated to Sunnyside Daycare, an idyllic final resting place for toys that hides a dark secret: if it seems too perfect to be true, that’s because it is.

Beyond that, I don’t want to spoil anything else mostly because the pay-off is definitely worth it. There are so many amazing moments, ranging from funny to sad to just plain cool.

The plot, dealing with issues only hinted at in the beginning of the series (such as what happens when Andy grows up), is darker than most animated films like to get, especially one as mainstream as “Toy Story.”

It’s hardly a flaw worth noticing however; “Toy Story 3” is the perfect balancing act of light and heavy. When the film needs to be funny, it’s gut-wrenchingly hilarious, but when it needs to take on serious side, it’ll really tug at your heartstrings.

This is something that is rarely accomplished, animated film or not, and it’s something that audiences have come to expect from the geniuses at Pixar.

The themes in the plot that were hinted at throughout the films bring the “Toy Story” series full circle and provide a level of poignancy unparalleled in most other film series.

The most interesting theme, in my opinion, is what happens after death. And, without giving too much away, the toys face their own version of hell that is one of the most gripping scenes in the entire film.

While room is definitely left for a continuation, it’s clear that “Toy Story 3” is supposed to be a capstone for the trilogy. And it has definitely given these beloved characters the closure that they deserve.

What also needs to be mentioned is the animation in the movie, which is really a minor point because Pixar is well-known for its stunning animation by now. The film looks incredible, and an amazing amount of detail is paid to every scene.

It’s also nice to see a “sequel” with so many new characters that doesn’t struggle under their weight.

Standouts would have to be Michael Keaton as Ken, a groovy and bit too stylish match for Barbie (Jodi Benson), and Ned Beatty as Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear, the strawberry scented ruler of Sunnyside.

“Toy Story 3” is a film that can stand side-by-side with the original and the sequel; not an easy task considering how well loved those movies were. Now that it’s over, the “Toy Story” trilogy can stand proudly in pop culture for years to come, which is how all trilogies should be.

5 out of 5 horseshoes