It would have seemed far-fetched to predict in January that the best and most entertaining movie in the first half of 2010 would star the unlikely duo of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.
But like How To Train Your Dragon before it – and Wall-E, Ratatouille, and other Pixar features before that – Toy Story 3 demonstrates that animated films, ostensibly children’spictures, are nonetheless leading the pack in general movie entertainment right now (a point furthered by Pixar’s marvelous companion short, Day & Night, which ingeniously combines 2D and 3D animation in depicting an encounter between the personifications of day and night.)
Toy Story 3
Directed by Lee Unkrich
As living action figures Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear, Hanks and Allen reunite with the rest of Andy’s toys for their third adventure. This time, Andy is preparing for college, and thetoys agonize over whether any of them will be taken along and what the alternatives might be.
When a moving-day garbage bag mix-up sends the toys to the garbage dump instead of a storage box, only Woody knows that it was an accident. With the rest of the group believing they have been discarded intentionally it falls to the dependable sheriff to wrangle them back to Andy’s house, even when they arrive at Sunnyside Daycare, where an unending stream of children offers the promise of daily playtime, unlike the neglect abided from adolescent Andy.
Sunnyside has its own preexisting toy hierarchy, much like Andy’s room, and thus anumber of new characters, headed by Lotso the Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear.
As adults in the theatre will likely suspect, not all is what it seems in this apparent toy utopia, and soon Jessie the cowgirl (Joan Cusack), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Hamm the piggybank (John Ratzenberger), and the rest of the gang soon find themselves caught up in a James Bond movie’s worth of intrigue and betrayal.
Toy Story 3 gives the original a run for its money as franchise best. While fundamentally a by-the-numbers affair, it somehow rises above its own formula with absorbing banter, a liberal helping of comic relief, engaging action sequences – making good, seamless use of 3D – andnew characters, including Timothy Dalton as a hedgehog with theatrical aspirations, Whoopi Goldberg as Stretch the octopus, and Michael Keaton as Ken, Barbie’s toy-mansion-equipped dream husband.
Though it ends on a lofty, almost proudly saccharine note, Toy Story 3 leaves the door open for future adventures without really requiring them. Given Hollywood’s ongoing predilection for sequels, reboots, and reinventions combined with the unassailable quality of the toy trilogy thus far, it seems like a wise idea.