Reviews

Toy Story 3

5

Still light years ahead of the competition…

Toy Story 3 review

Toy Story 3 review - “Let’s go out on a high note!” says Buzz Lightyear near the start of Toy Story 3, a line that not only casts an air of finality over Pixar’s 11th opus but also throws down the gauntlet to director Lee Unkrich and his team.

How do they set about following two films that, in addition to creating a genre, have had a decade or more to nestle in their audiences’ hearts?

Like the playthings they revolve around, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 have become more than enjoyable ways of passing the time.

They have become cherished keepsakes, to be passed down from one generation to the next and periodically revisited – on DVD, TV and digital 3D – through ever rosier spectacles.

It’s not enough, then, for Toy Story 3 to succeed at the box office. It must be that rarest of things – an instant classic that stands shoulder to shoulder with its predecessors like the final volume in a leather-embossed saga.

At the same time, it can’t simply repeat old glories. It must seek out uncharted ground, introduce fresh protagonists and take familiar ones on an exciting, original and satisfying adventure. Short of asking Lee to reinvent the wheel, it’s hard to imagine a taller order.

The bad news is that 3 can never hope to replicate the childlike wonder and delight TS did 15 years ago. We’ve all grown up since then, and Buzz and Woody have as well – not physically perhaps, but morally and emotionally.

Yet the fact they are, ultimately, merely sentient objects means there’s only so far Unkrich can take them, a limitation that sees 3 – initially at least – dramatise concerns and neuroses that have already been articulated in the movies that went before.

Above all others is the encroaching fear of obsolescence that stalks Woody like a cancer: the dread his beloved owner Andy will one day outgrow him.

That day finally arrives in 3, the 17-year-old Andy (voiced as ever by John Morris) having long put away childish things as he and his brood prepare for him going off to college.

It’s no surprise, then, that this serves as catalyst for this third instalment, an overdue clear-out of his dust-gathering toys – Jessie the Cowgirl, Slinky Dog, dino Rex and all – resulting in them being sent by mistake to the Sunnyside Daycare Centre for a new batch of kids to play with.

But this apparent utopia isn’t quite the dreamland Buzz and co. think it is, fostering a desire for freedom that crafts 3 into a cartoon spin on The Great Escape.

Yet Unkrich has loftier plans than that, an apocalyptic final act at the local rubbish dump – awesomely realised in 3D as a festering hellhole that is pure Hieronymus Bosch – forcing Woody and friends to contemplate mortality itself.

It’s a remarkably dark turn of events that may force parents to have serious conversations with their nippers they might have hoped to forestall.

But let it be said that 3 is also continually, blissfully funny, both in the way it uses established characters and in its ingenious integration of new blood.

Next: Toy Story 3 review conclusion[page-break]

Toy Story 3 review

Unkrich ups the ante from the off, realising one of Andy’s youthful reveries as a full-blown Old West escapade involving a runaway train, an exploding bridge and a giant porcine spaceship modeled on John Ratzenberger’s scene-stealing Hamm.

Although the real stand-out is the prison break itself, a superbly executed, Mission: Impossible-style extended set-piece that sees Mr Potato Head (Don Rickles) become Mr Tortilla, Woody confront a watchful monkey and a benign ‘Big Baby’ morph into an unsettling instrument of draconian oppression.

Of all the newcomers, Michael Keaton makes the strongest impression as an urbane Ken doll piqued by the notion he is no more than a Barbie accessory. (A dress-up montage to the strains of ‘Freak Out’ is a comic highpoint.)

Yet this is a film of countless pleasures, among them Timothy Dalton’s hedgehog thespian Mr Pricklepants, a flashback that reveals how Ned Beatty’s outwardly cuddly teddy bear Lotso lost his sunny side and a little girl called Bonnie whose imagination and innocence facilitate both the film’s heartbreaking climax and its optimistic open ending.

But what of Woody and Buzz themselves? It would have been easy for either to get lost in the crush, and there are times the former – sounding, via Tom Hanks’ larynx, slightly repetitive notes of desperation and neediness – nearly does.

But with Buzz, scripter Michael Arndt plays a blinder, introducing a hitherto unpressed reset button that turns this all-American Space Ranger into a tango-dancing Toreador.

For two pictures Tim Allen’s verbals have been consistently on the money and a ceaseless source of amusement.

Here, however, he must share equal credit with Javier Fernandez Pena, a lusty-voiced Spaniard who makes us view Lightyear in a whole new light. Arriba!

Verdict:

One of the best films of the year, Pixar’s long-awaited latest scores in every department. Funny, affecting and dramatically fearless, it’s as fine a threequel as you could hope for. Bring tissues – lots of tissues.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • Hadouken76

      Jun 18th 2010, 17:47

      Better than Bourne Ultimatum, Return of the King or Police Academy 3? Thats a mighty claim

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    • blackrainpr

      Jun 19th 2010, 6:27

      5

      it's just perfect!!!!

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    • abbasmomin

      Jun 19th 2010, 9:12

      Dying to see it.

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    • Hybrid

      Jun 19th 2010, 12:52

      Kudos to Pixar, this sounds as though it's up there with the genius of the first two.

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    • TheTingler

      Jun 21st 2010, 3:09

      5

      Beyond superb. Every moment has something great in it, but the Spanish Buzz had me laughing every time he was on-screen. And the poignant sequence at the dump as the toys finally accepted their fate really left a lump in the throat - not to mention a touch of "it can't possibly end like this, can it? If it does I'm going to be crying all the way home!" Disappointments? Um, perhaps not finding out what happened to Bo, and the fact that this is the last Toy Story.

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    • higgins78

      Jul 1st 2010, 11:38

      1

      Another tired by the numbers "threequel". If movies are about provoking a reaction then this fails on every squalid count.

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    • hulk68

      Jul 4th 2010, 9:17

      4

      Very good film but not the classic (part one and two)I was waiting for. Its no where near Wall E.

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    • umafan1

      Jul 9th 2010, 15:52

      5

      Brilliant film. I loved the movie. It was so funny and very sad. I cried at the end. So sad and so brilliant at the same-time!

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    • hulk68

      Jul 13th 2010, 7:56

      5

      The first time I gave it 4 stars tobe honest I saw it half way through and in 2D. I revisted the movie I withdraw my remarks and it much more than parts 1 and 2. Its an instant classic, full stop

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    • CinemaObsessed

      Jul 16th 2010, 16:56

      Such a great film. The opening "play time" scene/fantasy was amazing, the Mr. Tortilla thing had us howling, and the life lessons in the film were beautiful. LOVED this movie!

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    • colmheneghan

      Jul 19th 2010, 20:01

      5

      Well done Pixar for another classic Toy story film.my kids loved it so I'm happy apart from a few dark scenes in the film which I thought were a bit frightening for kids but I'm sure they were ok.Buzz in spanish was excellent.Ken was good also.my only qualm about the film that it didn't need to be in 3D because there wasn't much happening in visual effects throughout the film but that doesn't matter because it was a great follow up.people will criticise this film but I wouldn't listen to them because its a kids film and the ones that are judging it are adults ?? So so long as the kids are happy then I'm happy.well done pixar!

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    • Jkaltz11

      Jul 21st 2010, 9:58

      5

      The perfect ending to a perfect trilogy.

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    • umafan1

      Jul 21st 2010, 15:05

      5

      Brilliant! Loved it! The best of the three and that's saying something. Loved everything about it!

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    • superfurryliam

      Jul 22nd 2010, 13:21

      3

      It was good, but wasn't as inventive or engaging as Wall-E, Toy Story 1 & 2, Ratatouille or Up. Still, as you'd expect from a Pixar film, much more impressive than any other animated films out there at the moment. I feel that several of the set-pieces and new characters were recycled from previous efforts. There were a few fantastic scenes however: Spanish Buzz and Ken & Barbie were defintely amongst the highlights. Overall, enjoyable but ultimately a bit disappointing. Look forward to a fresher film from Pixar with new ideas! Ps - the 3D really didn't do much for me in this film, I look forward to revisiting in 2D.

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    • nixter1307

      Jul 23rd 2010, 0:28

      5

      Magical, superb by far the best film of the year, and pixar's best film so far. Toy Story 3 manages to end the series in the right way and also brings new characters and twists to the original characters. Loved spanish buzz and loved the narcissitic ken-doll, but also loved the dark humour of the villain lotso. I was really choked when our heroes were stuck in the incinerator knowing that this was the end for them, who would have thought that pixar could express to kids that we are all mortal and in the end we all have to die through plastic toys. I can't remember crying ever at a film before, but in the end I was blubbing like a big girl who had just lost her kebab on a friday night. One slight criticism is that we watched the film in 3D though we thought in the end that it does not to be watched in 3D and 2D is the best way of seeing Toy Story 3.

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    • TheDMeister

      Jul 23rd 2010, 12:15

      5

      Rarity seems to be something which escapes Pixar because with every new film they do something different and leave us with a great film to cherish. Toy Story 3 however is something more; the last part of a trilogy which doesn't just live up to the first 2 but stands on its own as well. The Toy Story characters have always been Pixar's best and have always remained charming and watchable and in TS3 where there are dozens of new and interesting characters, it's still the original characters who stand tall. The animation is absolutely stunning to behold; a junk yard finale is especially epic, and the story itself is both hilarious and emotional. Toy Story 3 is definitely one of the best films of the year and among Pixar's very best.

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    • zakmccormack

      Jul 27th 2010, 19:34

      5

      This film was everything I had hoped for and more. All those years ago when the first Toy Story was released I was a young boy so I grew up with the characters and the toys as well so it was sad to see them go. It had its funny moments as well, Mr Potato head as the tortilla was hilarious it had me in stitches. In addition I could really relate the Andy going off to college as I'll be doing the same with University this September. All in all best film I've seen in ages!!

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    • jamesslater

      Jul 29th 2010, 2:03

      5

      Fantastic family film, packed with Pixar's patented pizzazz and pathos! As much a love-letter to previous Toy Story films as anything--you can have loads of fun spotting the references and allusions (plus there's a cute Studio Ghibli shout-out). All of the characters are memorable, even if some are fleshed out more than others; a result perhaps of its rather crowded plotline. The film generally avoids crude emotional manipulation, although some of the later scenes veer dangerously close. It can also be quite dark in places. After Pixar's recent, more "out there" projects ("A rat in a kitchen?!" "A robot Adam and Eve?!"), this feels like their most nakedly "commercial" film in a long time; yet even its franchise-based status cannot detract from the care and love so clearly poured into every frame. And, coming 10 years after Toy Stoy 2, it is a fitting coda to a decade in which Pixar consolidated its position as the masters, not only of computer animation, but of pure family entertainment, and in which they truly revealed their creative maturity and confidence. These attributes are proudly displayed in a film that, even more than the first two, deals with very adult existential themes, at times incredibly literally! (I could go on, but you get the point. Conclusion: Great Film! Loved it!) The stereoscopic effect, like the film, was deep yet subtle, with no cheesy things-flying-out-of-the-screen gimmicks.

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    • cashman1

      Jul 30th 2010, 0:02

      5

      just watched it today and ive got to say it is really good i never cry at films but the end squeezed a tear out of my calloused heart also i dont understand people saying it wasnt as good as wall e and ratatouille which i thought were both quite s**te and boring well worth watching definite 5 stars

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    • tronstermonster

      Jul 31st 2010, 12:13

      5

      Took my four year old son lastnight, I nearly blubbed at the end especially when I saw my son almost crying. I asked him was he sad? and he replied that sometimes there is a happy kind of crying. We were in stiches when we saw the Spanish Buzz. I would recommend this film to anyone with kids or who are kids big or small. I am a grown man for goodness sake and I was entertained and moved. In short We loved it!

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    • DOLLS

      Aug 4th 2010, 22:53

      4

      Loved the excuse to take my 8 year old twins along to this and I wasn't disappointed. Clever plotting with multi level - a joy for children and parents. Loving the Spanish Mode Buzz and am sure many Mums watching would love to flick the latino button on their other partners too. For me nothing could equal the freshness and ingenuity of Toy Story 1 (the army soldiers were awesome). Go and see this - smile, laugh and feel a bit mushy too - it's great fun.

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    • TinoGeorge

      Aug 12th 2010, 19:36

      5

      Its toy story...... Without watching you know its going to be EPIC!

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    • pinkdegu

      Aug 13th 2010, 16:40

      4

      The horrible scary monkey has given me nightmares for 3 nights now. Traumatising is one word to describe that movie. I am 23 years old and I am scared of a toy monkey in a film. Oh dear god.

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    • hago1

      Aug 19th 2010, 23:16

      4

      I don't know what I was expecting but it didn't live up to it. TS 1&2 are both in my top 10 of all time so 3 did have a lot to live up to! Emotionally Jessie's back story in TS2 makes me cry every-time so after reading the reviews I was expecting to blubber at this one but, although I was moved, it just didn't happen! I did like all the characters,old and new, but where I think it let me down was the plain fact that it just wasn't as funny as the first 2 films. In short a very good film but could have been what most reviewers think it already is(i.e. a masterpiece). I also think they only did the 3D to guarantee it a cinema release and it was unnecessary and under-used! I'm sorry-I did so want it to be perfect...

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    • Chirurgie

      Aug 20th 2010, 23:51

      5

      Toy Story 1 and 2 was excellent. And whilst this 3rd one overall was not as good, it is still a 5-stars movie and head above shoulders over nearly every other film. And yes, if you don't have a tear in your eye by end of movie, well, I am very sad for you

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    • district9

      Aug 25th 2010, 16:22

      4

      A brilliant film but does not live up to the first 2. There was no need for the 3D.

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    • woodova

      Sep 2nd 2010, 19:17

      5

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      Nov 27th 2010, 3:04

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    • YouShallNotPass

      Jan 7th 2011, 13:38

      5

      Sublime- this is masterful filmmaking. Keeping old characters fresh and entertaining (Spanish Buzz is a true stroke of genius) whilst moving into new territory with new characters is a challenge, but Pixar once again deliver as they nearly always do (we'll forget Cars).The story is brilliantly paced, delivering some excellent set pieces like the escape sequence or the incinerator. It's always fun, funny, poignant and sometimes terrifying, but it's without doubt an absolute masterpiece. Once again Pixar raise the bar that they themselves have set on so many occasions.

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