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Toy Story 3

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    Posted: Mar-02-2015 at 6:55am
Toy Story 3 (2010), Rated "G"
Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Michael Keaton, Ned Beatty, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles
Directed by Lee Unkrich
Review by Dave Felts
Rating (4/5): 

The buzz is on the street - Toy Story 3 is good, bound to be enjoyed by all. I dragged my reluctant son to see it the other day. Reluctant, because at age 11, he's beginning to think he's getting a little long in the tooth for cartoons. I knew he'd like it though, and he did. But I think he's pretty close to the top end as far as kid age goes. I'm not sure a 13 or 14 year-olds would be that interested, unless they'd seen the first or second one on DVD or VHS. After that point, I don't think it hits the mark again until the viewer is a parent, or at least someone who has a vested interest in kids (like a grandparent). 

The first Toy Story was released in 1995, and was as much enjoyed for being a good movie as it was for the wow factor of its animation. Toy Story 2 appeared 4 years later in 1999, meaning many of the kids who'd enjoyed Toy Story were still around and in kid mode, or still so close to it that they'd seen the first and wanted to see the second. And Toy Story 2 was good as well, although the intervening years had diminished the impact of the computer animation. 

And now, 11 years later we have Toy Story 3. Those who were at the top end of kid-range for Toy Story 2 are now in their mid-twenties. Some are probably parents themselves. For the target group, say from about 4 or 5 up to about 12 or 13, the first two Toy Story movies probably didn't play a role. My son, for example, had never seen them and as such didn't have any knowledge of or investment in the characters. As I mentioned, seeing it was my idea, not his. 

I did notice, however, while we were standing in line, several smaller kids clutching Toy Story merchandise, and one kid admirably bedecked in a Woody outfit, so I suppose other parents out there are doing there duty and exposing their offspring to the first two movies, dutifully purchased on DVD or even (gasp) VHS. Still,l I can't help but wonder how the box office receipts would have looked if they'd been released like Lord of the Rings, one a year for three years, each one wildly anticipated and more connected to the success of the preceding. 

So, Toy Story 3....

Andy, the kid who owns Woody, Buzz, and the other toys, is all grown up. At 17, he's about to depart for college. All that remains is cleaning his room, which include an old wooden toy box containing the aforementioned toys. His mother provides the garbage bags: attic, donation, or dump. 

Various mix-ups occur, along with some desperate action, and the toys end up in a day care center. The day care center is held firmly under the sway of a strawberry-scented teddy bear named Lotso. Lotso's friendly greeting and promised of unending play belie the true nature of the place, and it isn't long before the toys start plotting their escape, with a plan to return to Andy, who, they're convinced, really didn't want to get rid of them.

The movie proceeds at a frenetic pace for it's full 103 minutes, barely giving the viewer time to draw breath. The toys seem to be thwarted at every turn, and must overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges in their quest to return to Andy. If you've ever done any writing or movie making, and are familiar with the try-fail structure in stories, you'll see it in full evidence here. 

I don't want to give anything away, and the movie is so full of forward motion that it makes it hard to talk about without revealing more than I'd like. We saw the 3-d version of the film, and it was flawless in its implementation. 

Like all Pixar films, although its target is children, there's plenty of sly adult humor as well, and an emotional resonance that will mean as much to adults as to the tykes. The interplay between Barbie (Jodie Benson) and Ken (Michael Keaton) was especially funny. 

See it with a kid or two, and, if you can, watch the first two with them before you go. I think have them fresh in your mind would add a lot more to the experience. 



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