Summer Movie Showdown: "Toy Story 3" Review

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This 3D comedy adventure film is the third in the Toy Story series. The plot focuses on Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen), and their friends as they face an uncertain future with their owner preparing to leave for college. Also reprising their voice-over roles from the previous films are Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, John Ratzenberger, Wallace Shawn, Jeff Pidgeon, Jodi Benson, R. Lee Ermey, John Morris, and Laurie Metcalf.

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Summer Movie Showdown: "Toy Story 3" Review

-- Rating: G
Length: 103 minutes
Release Date: June 18, 2010
Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Genre: Animation/Adventure/Comedy

Most people wouldn't think an animated film about talking toys would make it big, but in 1995, Pixar brought "Toy Story" to theaters. It was a massive hit and spawned two sequels. "Toy Story 3" serves as a distant sequel to the previous film, with Andy Davis (John Morris) preparing to go off to college. The film uses the themes of growing up, transition and the powers of friendship to produce a moving story that people of all ages can enjoy.

"Toy Story 3" begins with a meeting of the toys. Over the years, toys from previous films have been lost. Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie the cowgirl (Joan Cusack) and several others are the only ones who remain. Andy has been asked to clean out his room and choose whether to throw toys away, put them in the attic, or donate them to nearby Sunnyside Daycare. A few of the toy soldiers decide to strike out on their own. Woody is placed in the box marked "College," while Buzz and the other toys are placed in the bag to go to the attic. However, Andy's mother accidently thinks he left a bag of garbage and takes the bag out to the street, where it is nearly picked up by a garbage truck. Woody sees all this and manages to get outside to rescue his friends, who are all convinced that Andy intended to discard them.

The toys all get in the box to go to Sunnyside, but Woody tries to convince them to go back to Andy's room. Before he leaves, the minivan closes and takes them all to the daycare center, where they are introduced to some new toys. Their elected leader is a teddy bear named Lotso (Ned Beatty) who gives orders to the other toys, including a Ken doll. The toys are shown around and all choose to stay at the daycare, except for Woody. He is found by a girl named Bonnie, who happens to be neighbors with Andy.

At Sunnyside, the toys must undergo serious abuse from toddlers in the Caterpillar Room, and if they survive, they can go to the Butterfly Room with the older children. When Buzz tries to persuade Lotso to let the toys have a free say about where they go, he switches Buzz to his demo mode. Woody, at Bonnie's house, has heard about various horrible things that happen to toys at Sunnyside and decides it's his duty to get them free. He manages to sneak in at night.

The final third of the film is dedicated to the escape scene and ends with all the toys nearly being dropped into an incinerator. Lotso gets tied to the grill of a garbage truck by a garbage man who remembered having a similar toy as a child, and the other toys all end up with Bonnie, who plays with them gently. They even get a final playtime with Andy when he has Bonnie promise to take care of them.

Viewers can plainly see the lengths to which the various toys go to save one another and the power that their friendship holds. Woody wanted, above all else, to have someone to play with and own him. He could have had that with Bonnie, but instead he nearly sacrificed his life to get his friends out of a horrible situation. In time, without Woody's help, the other toys could have been damaged beyond repair. The story is also a testament that everyone moves on and grows up, and that it is natural to do so. Andy even said that just because he went to college didn't mean that he would stop caring about his mother and toys. In fact, he was going to take Woody with him because of the sentimental value he had.

Overall, the film does an excellent job of delivering its story and message. The plot may seem a bit slow in the first act or the whole story may even seem formulaic in comparison to the other "Toy Story" films, but it works. The end closes the toys' arcs off, or at least their time with Andy, who himself is one of the main characters as much as Woody or Buzz. The toys will surely have new adventures with their new owner, but thus far Pixar has no plans on making a sequel. As a good ending to a fantastic film trilogy everyone can enjoy, "Toy Story 3" is among the best.

Rating: 4 out of 5