a critiQal film review Toy Story 3 (2010)

Plot: Woody (Hanks), Buzz (Allen), and the rest of their toy-box friends have accepted that Andy would grow up someday, but they never would have expected they would find themselves in… daycare! These untamed tots with their sticky little fingers do not play nice, so it's all for one and one for all as plans for the great escape get underway.

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  • ...more high quality animation and another rock-solid story make this another sequel worth watching!

While we’ve been enjoying watching films via our NetFlix® instant queue, we’ve let our DVDs by mail portion lapse, so haven’t gotten any brand new DVD releases in awhile. Logging onto NetFlix® the other day, we remedied the situation and updated our queue to send us some of the latest releases. First among those: Toy Story 3.

We had wanted to check out the third film in this series in theaters this summer, but waited, not knowing if Pixar and Disney would be able to deliver the same enjoyment from the previous 2 films. Now that the film has arrived on DVD, however, we couldn’t wait any longer. So would Woody, Buzz and pals be able to give us another film full of comedic fun? Or would Toy Story 3 turn out to be the worst in the series?

A lot of familiar voices return for this third installment, including (thankfully) Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear and Tom Hanks as Woody. Pixar staple John Ratzenberger (Hamm) has also returned, as has Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head) and Wallace Shawn (Rex). Noticeably absent is Annie Potts (Little Bo Peep). Her absence is easily explained away by the film, but it still gives the viewer pause to wonder the reason behind that absence.

Despite some missing cast, the rest of the returnees step easily back into the voice characters that viewers have come to recognize over the series. Buzz and Woody haven’t lost their banter, and Hamm and the rest still provide the fun backup characters that round out the group.

The newcomers this time around aren’t as recognizable as, say, Kelsey Grammer’s role in Toy Story 2 (1999), so less time is needed for viewers to match voices to characters. Ned Beatty has the easiest job of this as Lotso, since most viewers will barely remember his name much less his voice. But even usually more recognizable names like Michael Keaton (as Ken) and Timothy Dalton (as Mr. Pricklepants) seamlessly blend in with their characters right from the start..to the point where most viewers will have to scan the end credits before they put those voices with Keaton’s and Dalton’s faces.

The plot itself does rely a lot on the basic setup created for Toy Story 2 (1999), but is different enough the viewers won’t confuse the two films. As with the second film, this third film manages to capture the positives of that setup as well. It bringins in new characters and new situations that expand the viewer’s knowledge of these toys’ lives in interesting ways. But, it still manages to keep an air of familiarity about the scenario.

Just as viewers could relate to Jesse’s sad story of abandonment – from both the child’s side and the toy’s side – in Toy Story 2 (1999), so too can they relate to the fears of abandonment these toys continue to feel in Toy Story 3, as well as their hope of a “happily ever after”. It’s this underlying relatable quality that has made these films so memorable, and thankfully, Toy Story 3 continues along that same vein.

The animation is top-notch, as one demands these days from any Pixar film. While it may not be as ground-breaking as WALL-E (2008) or Toy Story (1995), it still is eye-catching, even in it’s familiarity. Despite not pushing boundaries like they used to, Pixar is still miles ahead of it’s closest competitor and it’s animation is still a delight to behold.

A lot has been said lately about Pixar’s sudden interest in sequels (first this, then Cars 2 (2011), with more sequels planned in the near future), and people may have started worrying that Pixar is suddenly getting a bit lazy. Sure, it does seem like Pixar isn’t pushing the boundaries as much as it used to. But, as long as it keeps delivering high quality animation and rock-solid storylines like what’s found in Toy Story 3, we’ll continue lining up for their next film, be it a fresh idea or an umpteenth sequel.

If you haven’t seen this one yet, go out and see it now. Pixar has delivered yet again with Toy Story 3, and we can’t wait to see what they have planned next in Cars 2 (2011).

Their is one drawback, however, to renting Toy Story 3 – you can’t watch Pixar’s latest short film, Day and Night, on the rental DVD (at least not the one we got via NetFlix®) – that one’s saved for the purchased DVD or Blu-Ray versions only. A definite detriment to renting this one on DVD, but a smart move by Pixar – after all, that’s just another bonus to owning this one.

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