Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Toy Story 3

Directed by Lee Unkrich.
2010. Rated PG, 103 minutes.
Tom Hanks
Tim Allen
Joan Cusack
Ned Beatty
Don Rickles
Estelle Harris
Jodi Benson
Michael Keaton
John Ratzenberger
Emily Hahn
John Morris

Now that Andy (Harris) is all grown up, Woody (Hanks), Buzz (Allen) and the rest of the gang try to come to grips with what their future may hold.

As expected, our heroes find themselves on another adventure. This time, their own self-worth and mortality may be in greater jeopardy than ever before. In keeping with franchise tradition, the world toys inhabit when humans aren't looking is a vibrant, fascinating place. The comedy works without feeling forced and the action sequences exude a palpable sense of danger. Particularly near the end, our dread and anticipation brings us to the edge of our seats.

Getting back to that comedy for a moment, the visuals and the back and forth between characters work hand in hand to make it go. Of course, Hanks and Allen continue to complement one another flawlessly. Barbie (Benson) and Ken (Keaton) have been added to the mix and their relationship provides some wonderful moments. There is also lots of mileage gotten by poking fun of Ken’s masculinity, or lack thereof.

What really brings it all home is Lotso (Beatty). His look, voice and backstory come together perfectly. Equally as perfect is the creepy, mostly silent Big Baby. His tattered mid-section and lazy eye look exactly like a doll my sister once had. That thing moving around on its own is just frightening. What’s so remarkable about that, is it just is where Chucky and other movie dolls had to try really hard to be.

Visually, without the aid of 3D (I saw it in 2D), it is still high quality Pixar, just not awe-inspiring. With an established template, there is only so much that can be done to the series without drastically altering the look we’ve come to expect and love. However, I will say humans seem to be better rendered, this time around.

Overall, this is a great way to extend, or end, the series. Unlike so many other sequels, it doesn’t fell like a money-grab, whether it is or not. It feels like the logical next chapter of a great book. With three outstanding entries, it firmly places itself among the best cinematic trilogies of all time. I would be hard pressed to keep it out of the top handful. Even better than that, there could logically be a TS4. Why yes, I’d be pumped for that, too.

MY SCORE: 10/10

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