Disney and Pixar bring Toy Story back for one last horrah, and this time they've put it in the hands of first time solo director, Lee Unkrich, who previously co-directed on Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo; so he's not completely new, but still, it's nice to see what can be done at Pixar when the usual suspects: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Brad Bird aren't at the helm, as good as their work may be. Is Toy Story 3 one of the rare threequels that actually works? Or should this one have been left in the toy bin?
First things first, it's been 15 years since the original Toy Story released, which I actually saw in theaters, and 10 years since Toy Story 2 released... which was still the only Pixar film I hadn't seen until this past fall. That's a much larger gap than say... the Shrek sequels or any other sequels from DreamWorks, not that I'm gonna start any fights here, but I'm just saying.
So, what's the story here? Like many of the people that saw Toy Story as children 15 years ago, Andy himself has aged and is now going off to college, and he must decide what to do with his old toys that he's since lost interest in: donate them, dump them, or just leave them in the attic. Unfortunately, after a series of unfortunate events, the decision is out of his hands and our friendly toys get dropped off at a near-by day-care center, and things seem brighter than ever. Which generations of children coming and going through the center, the toys no longer have to worry about becoming abandoned... but it can't be all sunshine and rainbows... otherwise what kind of film would this be? One you have to see for yourself, because I'm not going to write the whole thing for you.
I don't mean to be rude, but really, I was surprised at how quickly this film went by despite being almost two hours long. There didn't seem to be any build up from one event to the next, everything just happened, and despite how much they tried to add consequence, I was never convinced that the consequence was really there. It's is rated G after all, they weren't just gonna kill them right there, surely. But, I don't think that's the fault of the directors or writers, that's just the thing that happens with sequels, because you know, if they've already made 2 films with the characters, surely they won't just kill them off now, not in a kid's film at least.
Aside from the fast-paced story, there are A LOT of new characters this time around. There's Lotso Huggin Bear and his crew at Sunnyside, with the voice talents of Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Kind and others, though aside from Beatty and Keaton, the rest of them are bit parts. But there's also another set of new characters that are in a little girl's home, these characters include the voices of Kristen Schaal, Bonnie Hunt, Timothy Dalton, and Jeff Garlin, and a silent-cameo from Hayao Miyazaki's Totoro; however, these too are basically bit parts and I would have loved to see more of these characters as they were much more interesting and appealing than those at Sunnyside.
As for the characters we already know and love, everyone's pretty much the same. Woody's heroic, Buzz is a cocky jerk but a bit more lovable this time since you don't have to hear Tim Allen's voice for much of the film, Don Rickles kills as Mr. Potato-Head, and John Ratzenberger's Hamm is just as good. But what this film also points out, is that Toy Story 2 was a big waste, because all it did was introduce Jessie and Bullseye, who don't really do anything significant this time around... so, yeah, great job with that one Pixar.
Overall, Toy Story 3 was still a good film, and definitely a fitting end (is this it?) to the story of these characters, especially if you're one of the people that grew up with these characters just like Andy himself did. And beyond that, it really is the only decent "third film" I can think of at the moment, so that's an achievement in itself. However, personally, I never got too enthusiastic about the Toy Story characters, and wasn't moved like many other people have been by this film. Sure, I got a bit watery in the eyes near the end, but in the ended, I definitely liked WALL-E and UP more, and got more emotionally invested in their stand-alone films than I have in all three Toy Story films combined.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Side note: this was the first Pixar film I've seen in 3D, if I was paying for this, I could have done without the 3D effects and price, but I didn't... because I work at a movie theater. However, the TRON Legacy trailer in 3D was worth the extra $3.50 charge.. if I payed. Just saying, TRON Legacy is definitely the only film with the Disney named attached to it that I'm dying to see this year. However, the short before the film, Day & Night, worked really well in 3D as the film's 2D animated characters became actual windows into 3D worlds, so, I say see it in 3D just for those two things; cause I'd say Day & Night (and the TRON trailer) were almost more interesting than Toy Story 3.
Also, Cars 2 is the next film from Pixar, and after already getting this sequel, I'm not hopeful for another... hopefully I can get proved wrong.