Toy Story 3 is a heartwarming, bittersweet and funny film that both kids and adults will absolutely love – and I would argue that the adults may find a more emotional impact especially if you were a child when the first film was released.
Disney | G – 103 min. – $39.99 | November 2, 2010
Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Writer(s): John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich (story), Michael Arndt (screenplay)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Michael Keaton
Theatrical Release Date: June 18, 2010
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Short Film
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1 EX), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Video: Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH
Note: There are spoilers littered throughout this review. In the movie review section, I will note when one is coming up, but there are a few in the features section.
THE MOVIE – 4.5/5
Can Pixar do no wrong? The first two Toy Story movies were brilliant pieces of animation that were game changers not only in the family genre but for movies all around as they found the perfect mixture of kid friendly fun while still managing to pull adults into it just as much and perhaps even more with the release of the latest (and I would assume last in the franchise), Toy Story 3. However, Pixar also proves they are hardly a one-trick pony releasing several popular animated films from The Incredibles to Finding Nemo to Monsters Inc. and finding success each time with maybe only Cars delivering their only disappointment, although even then Cars was still an entertaining flick.
Kids loved Toy Story 3, of course, but it has been 15 years since the first movie and those who were 10 years old or so when that was released probably have families now and taking their own kids to see this and in turn was far more invested in the story than I think the younger viewers were. Speaking for myself as someone who does not have kids, I found myself emotionally invested in these characters that I first watched when I was around 15 and doing the math, at the ripe old of 30, it was bittersweet to see these characters say goodbye brought something out that not many films do with me.
Back to Pixar and their god-like presence in the movie entertainment business, beyond the stories they tell that both kids and adults can have fun with they also gather some of the best voice talents that rather than going for a star (see: Will Smith and Angelina Jolie for Shark Tale) find somebody who embodies that character. That’s what we have (and have had) in the Toy Story franchise nabbing Tom Hanks and Tim Allen headlining a perfect supporting cast that has consisted of Don Rickles, John Ratzenberger (if anyone should receive an Oscar for voice work, he should be the frontrunner), Wallace Shawn, Kelsey Grammer, Joan Cusack, Wayne Knight and newcomers for Toy Story 3 with Ned Beatty and Michael Keaton in a hilarious role as Barbie’s counterpart, Ken.
The story this go around takes place about 11 years after Toy Story 2 with Andy leaving for college and the toys, what’s left of them, are anxious to know what will happen to them and hoping they will go to the attic to live out the rest of their days (though I would presume they live forever…) and while Andy has packed them all up in a garbage bag to go to the attic – save for Woody who he has chosen to go to college with him – through an accident they are placed out with the trash with the garbage truck on its way. They manage to escape and believing Andy meant to throw them away – and despite Woody trying to tell them otherwise – they hide away in a donation box headed for Sunshine Day Care.
Upon their arrival the place looks like a paradise: cheerful fellow toys and most especially, never ending kids who will play with them that when they grow older, a new set of kids come in so no more of the heartbreak they experienced with Andy. However, something more sinister is afoot when they go from what is called the “Butterfly Room” with nice kids to the “Caterpillar Room” with the toddlers who wreak havoc on the toys. Woody managed to escape beforehand but upon hearing about their predicament, returns to help save the day. Obstacles, laughs and bittersweet moments follow.
I already covered the voice talents but I must still give props to Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as they could’ve easily sleepwalked through a project like this given they’ve played these characters twice before (and in the case of Allen, in a few Buzz Lightyear DTV movies/programs) but you still get that friendship that resonated so well for Toy Story 2 especially and the relationships with the others like Rex, Hamm and Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. Simply put, it’s brilliant casting.
While I said Toy Story 3 will be the last of the series, I should amend that to say that it should be the last not because I don’t believe Pixar couldn’t top this or even be right up there with it but because it ended on the perfect note, a more than satisfactory ending that was indeed bittersweet but did not go into the sappy realm that can plague some family oriented films.
Overall, Toy Story 3 isn’t just a satisfactory end to a franchise (like Back to the Future Part III or Return of the Jedi) but instead is a brilliant film in its own right. Pixar might have stumbled a little with Cars, but their track record thus far is easily an A+.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
Day & Night Theatrical Short (6:02) – The short film that appeared before Toy Story 3 in theaters has been included here and is just as fun as it was when I first saw it. It also looks pretty good on the small screen although the 3D version looked fantastic.
Filmmakers’ Commentary – This is a commentary track with Director Lee Unkrich and Producer Darla K. Anderson providing some bits of information about the story, animation and voice talents, new and old. It’s an engaging track that is on par with the first two films, although getting a few more people involved would’ve been nice (Tim Allen maybe?).
Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science of Adventure (4:25) – These featurettes were made in conjunction with NASA and other editions were included on the Toy Story 1 & 2 Blu-rays. It’s a fun featurette for the kids to watch and learn about space and what they do.
Paths to Pixar: Editorial (4:40) – Similar to the “Setting Story in Motion”, this featurette focuses on the editing process from editors at Pixar and how they go about cutting a film.
Studio Stories (TRT 7:03) – There are three stories included and if you don’t know what a “Studio Story” is, it’s a simple animation narrated by an employee at Pixar relaying a story. Here’s the breakdown – ‘Where’s Gordon?’ (2:18), ‘Cereal Bar’ (1:38) and ‘Clean Start’ (3:07). These are fun stories that are worth checking out.
Toys! (6:39) – How many toys are in the film? Members of the crew talk about rebuilding the old characters (because of advancements in technology since Toy Story 3) and creating new ones.
The Gang’s All Here (10:24) – This featurette goes over the cast from the old crew to the newcomers including Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg and Jeff Garlin. I always enjoy the features where we get to see the actors recording their lines as well as getting their insights into voicing the characters (and the grunts they have to do).
A Toy’s Eye View: Creating a Whole New Land (5:29) – The featurette isn’t about creating the day care center but instead is a sneak peek at the Toy Story-themed playland at Hong Kong Disneyland.
VIDEO – 5/5
Toy Story 3 is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio (theatrically it was 1.85) and looks very very very good (is that enough?) on DVD and I’d say it might be one of the best looking standard def transfers I’ve seen in quite a bit. I didn’t notice any pixilation and the colors pop off the screen while black levels are also nice.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The disc features 2.0 and 5.1 EX Dolby Digital tracks with, unless it was just my player, the 2.0 track being the default one so be sure to change it on the menu. The audio has nice depth to it between the train robbery/rescue in the opening sequence, the general dialogue throughout the entire film to towards the end at the dump; it’s all quite even throughout. Like the picture, I don’t come across that many great sounding DVDs, but this is one of the better one’s in a while.
OVERALL – 4.5/5
Overall, Toy Story 3 is a heartwarming, bittersweet and funny film that both kids and adults will absolutely love – and I would argue that the adults may find a more emotional impact especially if you were a child when the first film was released.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman