Toy Story 3 – ***1/2
Directed by Lee Unkrich
Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty
Release date: June 18, 2010
It is wonderful to capture memories. We all do it one way or another. Video recorders are typically used for it, be it either for capturing celebrations, parties, talent shows, sporting events, or even sorrowful ones that cause us to be emotionally saddened. Years go by when we return to them again finding bliss and a moment out of time that is impossible to explain; an unfathomable remembrance of things past.
Toy Story 3 begins magnificently with old videos of Andy playing with his toys — a time when he kept reality at bay and possessed nothing but joy, caring very little from what was transpiring outside of his fantasy world abundantly full of train robberies and spacemen saving the day from evil. We all have to move on, and Toy Story 3 finds grievance in this stark realization and employs it throughout the movie within characters like Andy who is now going away to college, his mother struggling to deal with that, and his entire chest of toys who are facing being either shipped to the attic, donated to Sunnyside daycare, or thrown in the trash because Andy has grown up.
History has shown that Pixar has successfully captured every emotion that humans possess, interpreting them in ways unexplainable. They find in the most uncharacteristic of ways how to exploit tragedy, loss, fright, romance, and elation within characters that are unqualified to represent the human race. Most recently this application of human emotions worked wonders with a garbage-eating rat named Remy in Ratatouille. This feat of Pixar’s has never been as dramatically potent as it has been with the Toy Story franchise, which initially began in 1995 and then made a second appearance in 1999. Pixar implants these human emotions, with the fear of loneliness and neglect, most faithfully within characters that are toys: Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), the Potato Heads (Don Rickels and Estelle Harris), and Jessie (Joan Cusack). Most movies can be equated to representing a video recorder, but the films brought to us by Pixar truly see the unfamiliar in things and they don’t hesitate one moment in their ability to capture them, because, as we all know in the world of cinema, they are so fleeting to come by.
A refreshment is before us, beginning with the director Lee Unkrich’s cunning workmanship in which marvels are indeed to be seen and a plot whose narrative is tightly coherent thanks to screenwriter Michael Arndt. Surely to amaze the eyes of all those who behold it, partly because of the exquisite visuals, Toy Story 3 shockingly contains action scenes that will rival any action film this summer. When Woody is the only toy hand selected by Andy to accompany him to college, the action ceases to stop. While the others are brought to daycare, Woody is out to bring the group back together, flying high above the sky, dodging rambunctious children, escaping conveyor belts of fire-consuming, trash-chomping force, and hatching a prison break that Steve McQueen would definitely envy.
But this can become redundant. After the toys make their arrival at the shady and corrupted Sunnyside, which introduces us to new characters who run the toy world such as the Barbie hunk Ken (Michael Keaton), an eerily creepy baby doll who makes only cooing sounds, and a pink teddy bear prone to hugs named Lotso (Ned Beatty), many a scene derives from the opening train robbery scene, making blatantly apparent what the film will chart: action, action, action. This is not to say that the entire narrative is strictly bounded to action. But the reliance on action is explored to greater extent when compared to the previous two Toy Story films.
Sense and reason lie behind this creation of another installment in this already great series, as opposed to other sequels that adhere to the value of a dollar first and foremost over harmonious bliss and sparks of life. Every film in this trilogy charms us with its commended beauty and they are wrought with hands that are confident with making even more widespread the admiration we feel towards these special and unique characters.
Despite action scenes that function as potential video game material and a Buzz Lightyear who is transformed from his unprecedented Don Quixote-like mind into a clumsy Spanish lover, there is maneuvering to be found around these set-backs. It begins with the awareness of humane elements. The joy found in children playing with toys and toys enjoying being played with is what Toy Story does best. And in this new installment we catch a glimpse of that in the beginning and closing acts. The film escalates to its highest point when it is evoking that special feeling of creating a new world where our imaginations are the only thing that is governing us and everything outside of childhood is completely eradicated.