Sunday, June 20, 2010

Movie Review: Toy Story 3

Directed By: Lee Unkrich
Voices By: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty and Michael Keaton

"Let's go out on a high note!" ~Buzz~

While summer sequels currently struggle at the box office, Pixar continues to show other Hollywood studios how making a sequel better than the last should be done.

Although it's been eleven years (!) since the last adventures of Woody and Buzz Lightyear, the characters are still fresh and fun. It's saying a lot when an animated film can have more believable characters than a live-action film featuring actual human beings. Pixar characters, be they bugs or fish or little robots, are richly complex personalities. The writing team continues to outdo themselves feature after feature, making each new Pixar film better than the last. Toy Story 3 is not only the best film of the summer (so far) but also one of top films of 2010. Like its two predecessors, Toy Story 3 is an instant classic that will be passed down to generation after generation.

The toys have reached a point in their lives when they are faced with a reality they must all face: a child reaching adulthood and abandoning them. Andy is now moving out of his house and into a college dorm, while his mother forces him to choose which items in his room are to be donated or sent into the attic. Andy plans to take Woody (Tom Hanks) with him to college, however, the other toys (Tim Allen as Buzz, Joan Cusack as Jessie, etc.) are stuffed into a garbage bag to be sent into the attic for storage. Due to a misunderstanding, the toys are all sent to Sunnyside Daycare Centre (which is, by no means, a utopia) where they meet Lotso' Hugs (Ned Beatty) and Ken (Michael Keaton). Shenanigans ensue as the toys try to escape the clutches of violent toddlers and return to the comfort of Andy's home, attic be damned.

The plot is more intense than the prior two films, to the point where even adults will be on the edge of their seats. It's a darker, bleaker Toy Story that still manages to have an emotionally satisfying conclusion. It's one of those rare franchises where you actually hope they continue making more sequels of the same quality as Pixar's golden standard. Any other animation studio, such as Disney or the Dreamworks branch, has a lot of catching up to do before they can even touch Pixar's level of creativity and great storytelling.

The voice-work is all perfect, as old favourites return (Rex, Slinky, Hamm, etc.) and new favourites (specifically the wonderful and hilarious Michael Keaton, who plays the sexually ambiguous Ken) join the group. Unlike a lot of recent animated films that hire famous actors as a quick cash grab, the actors lending their voices to Toy Story 3 are all also famous, granted, but also incredibly talented; creating great characters that both adults and children can enjoy. Their voice-work are actual performances.

It's the best film of the summer and, arguably, 2010 so far. Thanks to this sequel, the Toy Story trilogy can boast what so few other franchises can: a perfect threesome of sequels. It's hilarious (of that rare type where audience laughter drowns out the next few lines of dialogue), affecting and intensely dramatic at times.


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