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IN SHORT: Cue the sunset . . . now ride off into it, leaving a tear in our eyes. [Rated G.103 minutes]
For its finale, Toy Story 3 could have delivered the same palsy walsy stuff, loaded with fun and laffs and we would have been happy (enough). While John Lasseter and the rest of his Disney Pixar team are still deeply involved with their baby, Lee Unkrich (who cut his teeth on Toy Story 2) takes the story places we never saw it going. He delivers a monumental finale that will have you laughing, until it scares you silly and leaves y'all sitting in a puddle of tears. Well some of y'all, maybe. We just wanted to be entertained.
Overall, we were.
As strange as it may look, this Toy Story is about abandonment . . . well, from the POV of the toys that have been exiled, untouched for years, in Andy's toy chest. Now 17, Andy (John Morris) is packing for college. Sister Molly is about to inherit the room and mom (Laurie Metcalf) has told the boy to pack it all up. He's given three choices as to what to do with his toys: Store 'em in the attic, Donate them to a local day care center or throw 'em out. [Heck, only the toys are smart enough to know about eBay . . .]
Cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks) is the only toy that will keep his freedom -- he's packed with the rest of Andy's going to college gear. The remaining toys, Andy decides, go into an oversized trash bag, with plans to store them in the attic. Something, of course, happens to distract Andy on his way up the attic stairs and his mom tosses the bag out with all the rest of the trash.
Woody, of course, has to save his friends. He manages one rescue from the dread Garbage Man but, thanks to the necessity of the toys needing to "play dead" (sic), they all wind up being carted to the Sunnyside anyways . . .Do not ask us to explain the details, folks. This Toy Story, as all of its predecessors, is so well written that there are layers and layers of meaning to be derived from each scene, all dependent on how old you are. If you really need to get that deep into it, find a film student.
At the Sunnyside, they are welcomed by Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty), and are "assigned" to a room where they can play with toddlers who prefer to treat their playthings as anything but the valuable collectible items they will one day become, Havok ensues. Woody is "liberated" (ie. stolen and stuck in a backpack) by little Bonnie (Emily Hahn) , whose mom works at the center. He will meet her other toys [including Timothy Dalton as a would-be Shakespearian thespian called Mr. Pricklepants, Jeff Garlin as Buttercup the horse and Kristen Schaal as Trixie the Triceratops). His loyalty to his friends, of course, requires that he liberate the crew once again. So he escapes, intending to rescue his friends and get them all back to Andy's house.
But in his absence, Barbie (Jodi Benson) has met her Ken (Michael Keaton) and his house is a dream! The other toys have become separated as the "politics" of the home make themselves apparent. It's complicated and written for the adults in the audience. It also fills a lot of time that is better spent on the ultimate escape sequence which leads to a junk yard where an Ultimate Fate awaits. . . the sequence we're describing may be too intense for any kidlet four or under. One actually was pulled out by her mother in our screening.
Said sequence happens to be the best in the film -- don't you just hate the fact that we just won't give away the ending?
Toy Story 3 aims to be all things to all people in the audience and, except for some pacing problems in the Sunnyside sequences (note: this was our third screening of the day... we were tired) it fires on just about all cylinders.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Toy Story 3, he would have paid . . .
Not that we had to put a number on it or anything. And lest we forget good ol' Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger (Tom Hanks) -- he steals the show, as usual, but that would be giving it away. It is the funniest sequence in the film and other critics are already spilling the gag. We're not going to ruin it for you.
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