Written by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Lee Unkrich
CINEMATOGRAPY: Jeremy Lasky, Kim White
WRITER: Michael Arndt
MUSIC: Randy Newman
The toys are back on the big screen and now they must face their greatest challenge: retirement. Andy (John Morris) is all grown up and about to head to college. Therefore, the toys are getting ready for their big move into the attic. Woody (Tom Hanks) assures the other toys that none of them will get thrown away even though he is also unsure about what will happen.
Then a big misunderstanding occurs. Just before Andy can put all of his toys in the attic, his mom takes the trash bag that they are in and puts it on the curb. After the toys escape from the bag, they climb into a box destined for Sunnyside Daycare. Once there, Buzz (Tim Allen) and all of the toys except for Woody think that daycare is a dream land. Woody still can’t get over the fact that Andy is grown up and escapes in order to be reunited with his owner.
Soon, the other toys realize that their dream paradise is not all that it seems. It turns out that Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear, or Lotso (Ned Beatty), is the leader of the toys at Sunnyside and he makes the new toys stay with the toddlers who are not age-appropriate. Therefore, the toys decide to escape and also return to Andy. That is, if they can turn off Buzz’s demo mode.
It’s been 15 years since the franchise started and in that time, Pixar has made several advancements in the technology. In fact, Pixar announced that they couldn’t access their original files and they had to recreate every character from the first two films from scratch. Well, the artists at the studio have done a phenomenal job.
The only real problem is that there are some computer generated effects that are too photo-realistic. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world and is quite an impressive feat of technology, it can take the audience member out of the film for a moment. Sometimes, the characters don’t completely feel like they belong in the scene. One shouldn’t worry, though. This is only a small problem in a film that lives up to the hype surrounding it.
The story, like the first two, doesn’t play just for the kiddies. There are plenty of things that adults will also find fun and exciting, as well. The last two “Shrek” films lost this balance between entertaining both children and adults and the people over at Dreamworks Animation could learn a thing or two from Pixar.
As far as antagonists go, Lotso is probably the darkest and most complex villain found in the entire series. In fact, there are some scenes detailing his background that may be a little too dark for younger kids in the audience. However, the kids will probably be fine and it’s doubtful any nightmares will occur.
Almost the entire cast is back and their voice work is better than ever. Hanks and Allen have always worked well together in the animated world and this is no exception. The only voice that has been changed, unfortunately, is that of Slinky Dog. He was voiced by the late Jim Varney in the first two installments. Here, he is voiced by Blake Clark and he does a great job and honors his friend with his performance.
As stated before, it’s been 15 years since the release of the original “Toy Story” back in 1995. With the third chapter, Pixar has done something that is rare in the film business. They have made a sequel that is not only entertaining, but it also gives the trilogy a proper conclusion that the kids, the parents and even the adults who grew up with these films can truly enjoy.