This Toy Story sequel may not be a true masterpiece, but it is still quite entertaining and creative...
Writing a great story is always a challenge in and of itself, and to do so twice, or even three times, is a phenomenal feat. While it can be great to see this occur with a movie series, it shouldn't be a surprise when the third movie in a series doesn't seem to live up to its two predecessors. This is certainly the case with the Toy Story movies. Whereas the first two movies are brilliant with lots of great humor and sentimental themes, the third has some good humor and only so much exploration into universal messages. But rest assured. This is still a good movie to see, so don't skip it just yet.
The first thing I shall talk about is the premise. The movie doesn't provide a cleverly original idea to explore, but rather it revisits an old one. Toy Story 3 essentially uses Toy Story 2 as a launching pad for its plot. Both movies remind us that a child will not play with toys forever and that every toy has a different fate at the end. Toy Story 2 makes us wonder what will eventually happen to Andy's toys once the boy fully grows up, and Toy Story 3 finally answers that question. Here, Andy, who is now 17 years old and going off to college, has to decide what to do with his toys.
In the midst of a mixup, Andy's toys, including Woody the cowboy (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear the spaceman (Tim Allen), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), and Jessie the cowgirl (Joan Cusack), wind up at a daycare center called Sunnyside. There, an entire horde of toys welcomes them, including a purplish teddy bear named Lotso (Ned Beatty) and the Ken doll to compliment the Barbie doll. The new arrivals learn that this place is a paradise, because there will always be kids to play with them, with kids coming and going. However, Woody believes that he will always belong to Andy and leaves to find his way back to his owner.
For the other toys who stay at Sunnyside, there's a problem. The daycare center is divided into several rooms designed for kids of different age groups. Instead of being put into the room for older kids who know how to play with toys the way they're supposed to, Buzz and the gang are playthings for toddlers. If you have children and/or work with children, you know that children younger than 5 years old play with toys in a messy and destructive manner. So just imagine how much torture these toys experience when they are constantly banged, thrown, etc. And to make matters worse, all doors have childproof locks, meaning that neither the children nor the toys can escape.
What eventually ensues is a daring prison breakout, because none of the toys can stand being in these conditions. However, one of the toys at Sunnyside, who is bitter about being abandoned once before, is determined to prevent all toys from getting out. There are some decent plot twists along the way plus a few funny moments, including Buzz's behavior after having his factory settings restored and Mr. Potato Head temporarily putting his parts into actual food items. All of this leads to a thrilling climax that involves the most perilous situation so far in the Toy Story series.
Yes, this movie is certainly not a 10/10 on my rating scale as are the other two Toy Story movies. There is one other thing that definitely feels different with Toy Story 3: the pacing. The dialogue and action seem to move relatively quickly, something I would see more in animated films by rival studio Dreamworks Animation than in Pixar animated films. I wonder if Disney's purchase of Pixar had anything to do with it. After all, the first two Toy Story movies were released when Pixar was simply a partner of Disney, not an integral part of the company.
In any event, Toy Story 3 delivers a load of fun for the entire family. Kids will adore the lovable characters. Adults will admire the storyline. And both age groups will applaud at the end, very much like the audience I was sitting in when I saw the movie in a theater. Even if the movie feels like a departure from what Pixar is known for, it hasn't forgotten its roots. As proof of this, wait until the touching final scene of the movie, which reminds us that toys will always live on and bring joy to children everywhere. And with this movie, Pixar has once again brought joy to audiences everywhere.
For more information about Toy Story 3, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews for Toy Story and Toy Story 2.