Fifteen years after the release of their debut film Toy Story, and eleven years after its sequel, Pixar has come out with the third installment of this critically acclaimed and financially successful franchise. Like its predecessors, Toy Story 3 perfectly blends comedy and adventure to create an immensely enjoyable film. Unlike the first two movies in the series, this film has a much darker tone and touches on much more mature themes such as growing older and rejection.
The film features much of the same characters as the previous two, though some, such as Bo and Etch-A-Sketch, have been sold in garage sales. The rest of the toys are worried because Andy, their owner, is going off to college soon and they feel the same fate awaits them. Despite having not been played with in years, Woody is adamant that Andy will hold onto the remaining toys and keep them in the attic while away. Many of the other toys are skeptical, so when a mix-up leaves them in a trash bag on the curb seconds away from being placed in a garbage truck, they take matters into their own hands and sneak into the donations box, which is going to Sunnyside Daycare.
Once at Sunnyside the toys are introduced to Lotso, a very large and cuddly purple bear who is the ringleader of all the toys there. He introduces them to the other toys and assures them that Andy no longer wants them and they will be played with plenty at Sunnyside. Better yet, when the kids in daycare grow older, new ones come in and replace them, so the toys will never have to worry about being rejected again. While all the other toys are extremely happy with their new homes, Woody is determined to get back to Andy. He manages to sneak out, but once outside he hears about the true nature of Sunnyside from another toy, and decides he must go back in and break his friends out before Andy leaves for college.
Toy Story 3 comes after quite a long stretch of well-received Pixar films, and I don’t feel the plot is as inventive as some of their more recent films, like Up or Wall-E. The filmmakers followed the tried and true plot formula from the first two movies: the toys end up somewhere they’re not supposed to be and they have to make it back home. In addition, a few of the running jokes from the first two films are continued here, but they seem to be losing their steam. For example, jokes about the Potato Heads losing body parts that were funny in the first film (and sort of worked in the second) have lost their comedic edge. Though some moments feel familiar, there are enough new characters and scenarios to make the film seem fresh enough to make it entertaining. Particularly great moments include when Ken and Barbie first see each other and remark that they feel they were “made for each other” (with every pun intended), and when the toys are forced to reset Buzz, but have a few problems figuring out how to do it correctly.
The one way in which Toy Story 3 does reinvent the series is through its tone. While the first two movies set uplifting, happy-go-lucky tones, this movie sets a much darker tone through its depictions of the rejection the toys go through. The film seems to be targeting those kids who were five or six when the first film came up and are now either in or going off to college. While both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are perfect for all ages, some younger children might not quite understand the darkness of the film, though I cannot imagine anyone who is a fan of the first two films not enjoying this one.
Despite the films few flaws, it is defiantly worth seeing. Both Tim Allen and Tom Hanks reprise their roles as Woody and Buzz and do a fantastic job once again. Time will tell which film in the series will be most highly regarded (I still prefer the second), but Toy Story 3 is certainly a worthy addition to an already impressive franchise.