Until I became an older brother, I was an only child for the first 6 years of my life.  All I had to keep me busy were my school friends, my parents (my father still remains undefeated in our career of random play fights at the very youthful age of 52) and my gi-normous box of toys which I had all to myself.  I will take great pride in stating that even though I probably had every toy imaginable in my legendary “toy box”, I was never a spoiled brat.  My mother refused to let me be.  I think I still might have some battle bruises from the wars I also lost to her.  Of course, that was back in the 80s and many kids nowadays would probably have no idea what some of those toys were.  But ultimately, toys made my world go round, that and whenever my mother packed Kool-Aid instead of milk in my Knight Rider lunchbox.  I also remember losing a lot of those toys but had never had any idea how that happened.  It wasn’t until 1995 when a completely computer animated film called Toy Story was released and I discovered that my toys might actually be alive.  I was like 13 by then so that premise never stuck but it did make me think. 

            For those of you who have lived under a rock for the last decade and a half, the Toy Story films are centered around a group of toys owned by a young boy named Andy; a cowboy doll, Woody (Tom Hanks), a space ranger, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen); a cowgirl doll, Jesse (Joan Cusack); a dog made out of a slinky, Slink (Blake Clark); a dinosaur, Rex (Wallace Shawn); and of course Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles & Estelle Harris) among others.  Two sequels and fifteen years later young Andy is all grown up and preparing to go off to college.  The group of toys, who haven’t been played with in years, are desperate for attention and very nervous about their immediate future.  Will they be given to another child, donated to a shelter, or worse of all, just plain thrown away?   

            Accepting that one of these will become their-soon-to-be fate and much to Woody’s disapproval, they decide that being donated to a day care is their best option.  Upon arriving at Sunnyside day care, they are welcomed by other toys and greeted by their leader, Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear (Ned Beatty), a snug-able stuffed bear who smells of strawberries.  They begin to feel right at home and can’t wait to be the object of children’s affections once more.  That is, until they realize all is not what it seems within the walls of Sunnyside. 

            This volume of the series seems a little darker than the previous chapters.  It continues to focus on the toys’ fear of possibly being split up and never seeing each other again but goes even deeper at times once again threatening their plight at making children happy through their possible destruction.  Director Lee Unkrich, who helmed the first two films along with other Disney/Pixar titles, spotlighted the “real life” feelings of the toys  more in depth.  Objects that some people may think are just made out of plastic and metal and nothing more are showcased as companions who love the children that they make happy just as much as those same children love to play with them.  Their desire and determination for survival and loyalty to each other rank right up there with our own. 

            There’s nothing outside of extraordinary and captivating that can be said about the animation and special effects.  As usual, the Disney/Pixar combination does not disappoint.  The CGI is crisp and colorful and because I took my two-year old with me, I opted for not seeing it in 3-D.  But it still dazzles, especially during a scene where the toys find themselves in a trash facility dodging and escaping numerous traps and obstacles.  Fortunately, the entire cast plus more names were able to return to lend their voices and make the emotion expressed by the characters jump off the screen.  Personalities filled with happiness, despair, lots of sarcasm and a must-see Spanish mode help bring these toys to life. 

            Disney is known for producing masterpieces and classics.  With the expected grade A animation and a new story line that may have you searching for your old childhood playthings afterwards ,this film is sure to be placed in that same category.  Assuming that this second sequel will probably be the franchise’s final act, it is definitely one that should be checked out.  I give Toy Story 3 “4 Buzz Lightyears in Spanish mode out of 5”. 

“C’mon. Let’s go see how much we’re going for on eBay.”

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