Toy Story 3

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“Toy Story 3 dabbles in a winning mixture of nostalgia and hard-won optimism.”

Toy Story 3

Directed by Lee Unkrich
Judging by the recent slate of sequels, summer movie franchises long ago devolved into simple arithmetic, a predictable sequence of 2’s and 3’s and Forever Afters, but without a complementary increase in quality. Rare are the series that buck the trend. Toy Story has turned out to be one of them.
This latest installment opens with seventeen-year-old Andy about to depart to college and in the process of boxing all his possessions. Some objects will be kept; most will be thrown away. And to the collective horror of his sentient childhood toys, they appear to fall in the latter category, as Andy seems to have outgrown playing with action figures and dolls. The specter of being abandoned by an owner (or ending up in the trash heap) looms large. They have become entirely disposable. But instead of a trashbag, Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang end up donated to SunnySide Daycare Center, where they find themselves surrounded by hundreds of happy kin and an endless number of adoring children to play with. But what at first appears to be a toyland paradise soon turns into a dystopian menagerie of plush, huggable, autocratic teddy bears and hyperactive toddlers.
The original Toy Story, Pixar’s first production, established the company’s trademarks: gorgeous animation, appealing characters, sly humor, and an unwillingness to adhere to condescending Hollywood mannerisms when it comes to making “children’s” movies. Director Lee Unkrich and his merry band of animators continue that hallowed tradition in Toy Story 3. Their attention to detail is impressive. The humor is incisive and grown-up. Especially hilarious are the scenes between Barbie (voiced by Jodie Benson) and her counterpart Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton) as two sunkissed, airheaded prima donnas who find themselves inexplicably attracted by the unseen hand of marketing logic and their common vanities.
The visually inventive character of the toys–from a veteran (of Sunnyside) telephone that can only be spoken to through it’s receiver to a cynical clown doll that wears its world-weariness as a perpetual painted frown–complements the movie’s intelligent blend of comedy, adventure, and genuine emotion. Toy Story 3 dabbles in a winning mixture of nostalgia and hard-won optimism.
– Kenneth Avocetien

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