Saturday, June 19, 2010

Toy Story 3 (3-D) Review

I'm going to commit a some film blasphemy here. I never thought Pixar's Toy Story (1995), and Toy Story 2 (1999) were all that great. I mean they were good but these were movies geared towards children and maybe that's why I had trouble enjoying them as much as other critics. I will agree that Toy Story was revolutionary in introducing computer animation for a full length film. It probably spelled the death of 2-D animation, though it was good to see Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" (2009) go old school 2-D. So, when other critics were glowing with praise for Toy Story 3 (99% Fresh with Rotten Tomatoes), I decided to see it.

Toy Story 3 opens with a wild western fantasy that a young Andy is staging with his toys. We're reintroduced to cowboy Woody (voice by Tom Hanks), cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) and others. The scene is a flashback and serves to tell the audience how things have changed. You see in the ten years since the last movie, Andy has grown up and stops playing with his toys, leading the toys to feel lonely. On the cusp of college, he decides to store his old toys in the attic, with the exception of Woody, who he wants to take with him to school.

Unfortunately, they are mistaken for trash when Andy puts them in a garbage bag. The toys escape but crawl into a box slated for donation for a day care center. When they arrive at the day care center, the toys think they are in heaven since they will be played with. The older toys at the center are supervised by Lotso (Ned Beatty), a big furry bear and he assigns new toys to the playroom where the very young kids play. It turns out that our heroes are not age appropriate for these children as the kids abuse them in violent ways. Hey, let's face it, young children usually like the box that a new toy comes in rather than the toy. We discover that Lotso is kind of a dictator, and is enslaving our heroes. The toys decide to escape with the help by a Chatter Telephone. (Teddy Newton) Their goal is to get back to Andy even if that means exile to the attic.

It's been ten years since we last saw these characters, and frankly I wasn't very interested in their lives since the last movie. The early scenes of the toys escaping the garbage bag, and being tortured by little kids were small in scale. I missed any sense of adventure. And don't bother with the 3-D version of this film. The filmmakers seemed to have a snobby view of 3-D and refuse to emphasize it. There are virtually no money shots, i.e., where objects come at you. You don't notice it. If Pixar doesn't use 3-D then they should lose it. Now, that may sound like I hated this film, however, it takes flight during the escape sequence. The action and especially the comedy during the escape were entertaining, and funny. And I have always loved the themes that Pixar puts in their films. I saw compassion, generosity, courage, loyalty and love in this movie. That is enough to melt my heart.

Toy Story 3 looks like the final part of a trilogy. As such, it is a satisfying conclusion. The grade is B.

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