Review: Pixar's Toy Story 3 is Magical & Full of Wonderment

June 19, 2010

Pixar's Toy Story 3

There is always a sense of apprehension going into the third movie of any franchise. Historically, the third film is where the series turns downhill, and the quality of story, character, and execution is rarely ever on par with the rest. The franchise loses its magic, if you will, and the characters and predicaments that play out typically seem derived and dull. You've never been able to count on a third movie in a franchise.

That is, until now. Why? Because Pixar has never made a third film in a series until now. With Toy Story 3, the same magic we've come to know and love from not only the first two Toy Story films but all Pixar has had to offer to date is on full display. Heartwarming, adventurous, and comical, the precise combination we've seen time and time again from this studio, Toy Story 3 is every bit as magical as the previous films in its franchise.

Set 10 years after the events of Toy Story 2, Andy, the child whose toys we've seen go on a few adventures, is now 17. He's moved on from playing with toys as all 17-year-olds must do in favor of cell phones and cars. Buzz, Woody, and the rest of the gang (at least, the rest of the gang that hasn't already been given away or tossed) find themselves relegated to Andy's toy chest, only getting time with him after hiding his cell phone in with them. Andy is planning to go to college, and the decision on what he should do with these toys comes up.

Through a series of mishaps, as is the case with most of these adventures these toys gets into, the toys find themselves at the Sunnyside Day Care Facility. There, they meet new toys who convince them that Sunnyside is a happy place where the children are loving and careful with each toy. But, as with any adventure, not everything is as it appears to be, and the toys soon find themselves in a situation they must escape from as quickly as possible.

Directed by Lee Unkrich, who co-directed Toy Story 2 with John Lasseter and Ash Brannon, there was a lot of expectation going into Toy Story 3. Would we be able to revisit these same characters with as much connection and heart we had for them 10 years after last visiting them? Toy Story 3 meets those expectations and answers them in kind. From scene one, we are right back in with the toys, connected as we've ever been with their story. In fact, as was the case twice before, there is more connection between the animated characters of Toy Story 3 and the audience than there is found in most, live-action films these days.

And that is what makes Pixar so special. Every film they have put out to date not only incorporates flawless and meticulously crafted animation. An opening scene here that includes millions of toy monkeys is quite a stunning achievement to behold. But, more so than the brilliance of their animation, the characters and story are put forth in such loving care, it's no wonder Pixar's films are consistently nominated for screenwriting awards. Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich are to thank for the screenplay here. The story, both heartfelt and important to the overall series, has a wonderful way of referring back to the previous films, something people who know those films in and out will appreciate. Even though it may not be the most inventive set-up we've seen from the Pixar team (you can't help but get a sense of been-there-done-that with the idea of the toys having to escape from a facility they find themselves trapped in), this is easily brushed aside in favor of the incredibly crafted characters both old and new.

Woody and Buzz are just as exquisitely written as they've ever been, and neither of them would work as well were it not for Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, respectively, serving as their voices. Buzz gets put on the back-burner ever so slightly here, but that goes with the story at hand. All the old characters are back and in full force, but the new characters on display here are equally as significant. The idea of bringing Ken and Barbie into this story, voiced by Michael Keaton and Jodi Benson, was a stroke of genius. Their plot-line serves some incredibly comical moments, especially when Ken feels the need to fashion his vast wardrobe for Barbie. Ned Beatty as the voice of Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear, the leader of the team at Sunnyside, is also a well-written and executed character, even if his intentions are somewhat predictable in nature.

The characters, the story, and the animation are all there in Toy Story 3, all ingredients of a wonderful and engaging film. But more importantly than these, the film has heart, and what would a Pixar movie be without a boat load of heart? It wouldn't be Pixar, that's for sure. Toy Story 3 is certainly about these characters and the latest adventure they find themselves on, but, ultimately, the film is at its most gripping in the smaller moments between characters. It's in the connection a young boy has with the toys he has grown up with, the same toys he must one day put away in favor of a much bigger world.

The final scenes in Toy Story 3, no details given, are incredibly moving, and, once again, Pixar easily brings you to tears. They are happy tears, tears of hope and brought about by the human character both young and old. It's about the imagination of a child, and as seen in Toy Story 3, there's nothing more magical than that.

Jeremy's Rating: 9 out of 10

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couldnt agree more

8=D on Jun 19, 2010


I heard the film had a dark undertone or something but im not surprised. Up was utterly depressing. Still I know Pixar won't dissapoint.

Eli on Jun 19, 2010


Solid review, you guys should try and review more new movies as well

sykstyk on Jun 19, 2010


I loved this 3rd installation of Toy Story. There were moments of nostalgia where I was recalling toys that I'd had as a kid but there was also the pang of what is to come. As a parent of a teenager who has put her childhood things in boxes already it is poignant. The opening scene is wonderful, clever and funny and the last scene had a tear trickling down my cheek. I will be re-visiting it at the theatre again. Pixar Gold!!! PS: In my opinion 3D viewing is not necessary.

Jane on Jun 19, 2010


Yup. I totally agree on the dark-undertones in certain scenes but everything works out beautifully and happy towards the end. A definite must-watch. If you are a fan of the first two, you will definitely love the third one as well.

Ron on Jun 19, 2010


@ 5 agreed 3d is not necessary at all but for Day & Night it added a lot.

JNYCE on Jun 19, 2010


For me, this is 10 out of 10, the MOST BEAUTIFUL MOVIE EVER from Pixar...

FAT on Jun 19, 2010


AWESOME movie! Just saw it today. PIXAR is still batting 1000. (NOTE: 3D is a joke, don't fall for it. 2D is still the way to go...much brighter and less expensive and no dizziness.)

ModernRock on Jun 20, 2010


Good story telling + Nostalgia, couldnt ask for a much more heartwarming movie. 🙂

azn2newbie on Jun 20, 2010


I agree with the 3D analysis. In UP the 3D added to the story and made the movie look better. Here it came off as just a gimick. That still doesn't take away the brilliance of the movie, it was truley wonderful.

????? on Jun 20, 2010


When 3D takes off at home, someday, and people can be stupid enough to pay for it, 3D will take over. After 3D takes over, maybe some geniuses will actually be able to think of real uses for it besides tossing crap at audiences for amusement.

tivdatsun on Jun 20, 2010


I agree with your review because what's amazing about Toy Story 3 is that it was actually good. The first third of the movie is really good and the second third is pretty bland but the final third is absolutely incredible and lives up to the Pixar standard. They're batting 11 for 11 that is until next summer with Cars 2.

Moon on Jun 20, 2010


The movie did not disappoint. I went with all three of my kids (11, 5, 2), my wife, and mother-in-law and at the end I looked down the aisle and all of them were tearing up or crying. What a profound last 5 minutes of the movie. Amazing storytelling and wonderful visuals made for a classic family movie. For fans of the franchise, this was a fitting conclusion. Thanks Pixar.

Chris on Jun 20, 2010


Jeremy, I couldn't agree more with you. Every Pixar's films has a touch of heart in them. In Toy Story 3, it is even more amazing when these plastic toys are more real than they ever were and they could show us that they have good hearts when most humans don't even have any.

Yowazzup on Jun 20, 2010


"You've never been able to count on a third movie in a franchise." What about X-Men 3 which was way better than the second film? The second movie is usually the worst IMO, but you can't say "it's always like this" cause The Dark Knight was better than Batman Begins (for example).

Lincoln on Jun 20, 2010


i liked ken until i found out he was a dick. also i liked the buttercup character i loves it and i think everyone should see it whether your a kid or an adult i loved it and so will you! <3

Michael on Jun 20, 2010


I Agree!

Ray on Jun 20, 2010


I am pretty surprised by all these gloring reviews. I saw the film with a bunch of 7 year olds, two of them screamed and cried through the second half of the movie. While a little dark side may be ok, this was completely overdone, any chance of redemption was lost, it was not only dramatic, but got worse and worse and worse. I would absolutely NOT recommend this movie to children. While there were some funny scenes, overall the storry line was pretty bad.

Wunder on Jun 20, 2010


Rage on, Wunder! Every Love-fest needs at least one guy with herpes!

Morlock on Jun 20, 2010


I'm 20 now, and I pretty much grew up with the Toy Story movies - I was Buzz 2 or 3 years in a row for Halloween when I was younger. However, I found that TS3 simply didn't live up to the hype of how great it's supposed to be when I saw it in theaters. Granted, the last 20 minutes of the film were spectacularly moving for me, the nostalgia factor kicking in for not just those toys but my days of wild abandon when I could create whole worlds with a few action figures and my imagination. But I guess I just feel that the rest of the film is too over-the-top for me... All the new toys were interesting, but I really didn't feel they were able to shine in their own right, being relegated to cheap laughs, but not creating the same emotional connection I have to the originals.

inspiredefined on Jun 20, 2010


@15, X-Men 3 sucked major ass compared with X-Men 2.

BlackSmokey on Jun 21, 2010


lol @ 21 cuz u are true... anyhow, toy story 3 was great. im 24 and when i read years ago that ts3 was coming out, i couldnt wait for it and knew i had to see it no matter what. me and my wife went to see it, and it was jus wonderful all over, the 3d didnt do too much of 3dish things, but it was sumtin different for me. id still rather rather it in regular. but i will admit tho that in sum scenes, it had u tear up and think alot. jus the friendship and all that happens in these movies is great. cant wait for it on blu ray and dvd. great movie.

KING on Jun 21, 2010


@15, Lincoln, that was a joke right X-Man 3? Seriously? Kill yourself! Not only was "X-2" the best in the series (with X-3 being the WORST) but so was "Spiderman 2" and "Aliens" and "Superman 2" and "Godfather part 2" and "Terminator 2" all the best in their series....Lincoln, you suck at life! Wanna know which ones were shitty??: X-3, Spiderman 3, Alien 3, Superman 3, Terminator 3, Godfather Part 3.

Cmurder on Jun 21, 2010


Lighten up Wunder! You must be one of those ranting stricto parents who thinks Harry potter is evil and teaches withccraft. It's a Disney movie for crying out loud. If your seven year old was crying, then You better toughen him up so he doesn't Get hIS ASS kicked in grade school like you probably did.... what a douche!

indyjack86 on Jun 21, 2010


its worth the watch.... i watch it on imax and its amazing watching this in 3d was worth it, i wish this movie join the billion dollar club like avatar by the way great review... and fascinating movie, Andy's acting is more human like now although some scenes are expectable... and there are lots or twist P.S. stop piracy this movie is worth watching in theaters rather than downloaded Russian cam corded piracy, people dont know what efforts of the creators of such a masterpiece they just want to earn money for themselves . more power to pixar and their brilliant animators. and one last thing i wish that studio ghiblis logo totoro talk im thinking he's japanese or he really doesnt talk coz i watch my neighboor totoro he just screem...

shalnark on Jun 21, 2010


one of the most amazing films ever. and certainly Toy Story is now the greatest Trilogy, second perhaps only to Star Wars.

dave13 on Jun 22, 2010


Having seen the movie over the weekend, I definitely concur with Jeremy. However, I would argue that TS3 is not the first 3rd film to be great. Return of the King comes to mind (though since that was based on a book rather than a previous film, I'm not sure it counts). Other than that, third chapters do tend to be letdowns.

Corran Horn on Jun 22, 2010


@26: Uh HELLO!!!! Lord of the Rings anyone???!!!

Cmurder on Jun 22, 2010


@ Cmurder: Totally agree... TLOTR BEST TRILOGY EVER and Return of the King BEST MOVIE EVER !!!

FAT on Jun 22, 2010


Awesome Review.

Raymond Ling on Jun 23, 2010


@24 Hahaha indyjack86 you're probably 100% right about that! @18 Wunder really?? You are utterly stupid.

Peace Love & GaGa on Aug 20, 2010

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