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"Toy Story" - (3) - {Blu-ray}- (Chris)
Chris Pandolfi
Studio: Disney
Release Date:
Special Features:

See Below


What has always appealed to me about the "Toy Story" films, aside from the fantasy that toys are secretly able to speak, is that they add genuine emotion to scenarios real toys find themselves in. In the first movie, Woody the Cowboy was threatened by the arrival of Buzz Lightyear, a new, high tech toy that upstaged Woody's nostalgic charm. In the second movie, Woody faced the possibility of becoming a displayed collectable, to be gawked at instead of played with. Now we have "Toy Story 3," and it follows its predecessors by introducing another unfortunate reality: That of a child outgrowing his or her toys. What's to become of them then? Sometimes, they're stowed away in the attic for sentimental reasons. Sometimes, they're donated to charities or daycare centers. Sometimes, they're thrown away. In any case, it always seems to end badly for the toys.***

This is the situation that Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz (voiced by Tim Allen), and their toy pals find themselves in when their long-time owner, Andy (voiced by John Morris), prepares to move away from home, ready to start college. After a series of missteps and daring rescues, the toys wind up at a local daycare facility, which by all accounts seems like an ideal place. Plenty of children. No emotional attachment. Lots of other toys to befriend. But appearances can be deceiving; Woody's friends end up in the hands of aggressive toddlers, who are clearly too young to appreciate the value and delicacy of the toys they're given. Worse still is a tyrannical prison system overseen by the cuddly but heartless Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear (voiced by Ned Beatty). It's up to Woody, who was supposed to move to college with Andy, to rescue his friends before it's too late.***

While not quite at the level of their previous masterpieces "WALL-E" and "Up," "Toy Story 3" still proves that the folks at Pixar are the real deal, masters not only of computer animation but also of story, characterization, writing, and directing. It's not merely a bright and colorful series of images for kids to stare at in amazement; it's an emotional journey for people of all ages, correctly founded on the assumption that even adults remember what it was like to be young, carefree, and devoted to their toys. It's incredibly funny, but it's also incredibly exciting, and there are moments of such wonderful sweetness that they bypassed my brain and found their way directly to my heart. It doesn't play down to its audience - it's sincere in its efforts to be both entertaining and heartfelt. It's also in 3-D, although I must admit, I'm finding the process less and less necessary with every new release.***

Along with Lots-O', a number of other memorable characters are introduced. One of the best is Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton), both a direct reference to and a parody of the famous Mattel Ken doll. His footsteps are wooden and jerky, his joints limited in their flexibility. He lives in a spacious Dream House, and he flaunts a wardrobe-stuffed closet that even Carrie Bradshaw would be jealous of. He, of course, immediately falls for the newly-arrived Barbie (voiced by Jodie Benson), who's cute femininity belies a toughness that Ken would be hard pressed to outdo.***

And then there are the toys owned by the loveable Bonnie (voiced by Emily Hahn), who Woody meets entirely by accident. Mr. Pricklepants (voiced by Timothy Dalton) is a stuffed hedgehog who fancies himself a master thespian. Trixie (voiced by Kristen Schaal) is a blue triceratops who seems to be somewhat of a computer nerd. Buttercup (voiced by Jeff Garlin), a plush unicorn, finds Mr. Pricklepants annoying. Dolly (voiced by Bonnie Hunt), levelheaded and calm, is a ragdoll whose look must have been inspired by Raggedy Ann.***

Most of the characters we've come to love are part of this new story, including Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (voiced by Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Jessie (voiced by Joan Cusack), Hamm (voiced by John Ratzenberger), Rex (voiced by Wallace Shawn), and Slinky Dog (voiced by Blake Clark, replacing the late Jim Varney). Even after fifteen years of friendship, it's interesting to see the ways in which their camaraderie is tested. Take Buzz; when a switch on his back is tampered with, he reverts to his old self, once again believing he's an actual space pilot defending the galaxy from the evil Emperor Zurg. Attempts to fix him result in a hilarious language-setting malfunction, changing his voice - and his dancing moves - from English to Spanish.***

Special Features:

Teaser (HD) Cars 2 early sneak peak *

Day And Night theatrical short * Bonus: The Gang's All Here, Toys! Epilogue *

Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science Of Adventure (in conjunction with NASA) *

Paths To Pixar: Editorial *

Studio Stories: Where's Gordon, Cereal Bar, Clean Start *

A Toy's Eye View: Creating A Whole New Land * Alex Syntek *

Cine-explore by director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson (Blu-ray only) *

Beyond The Toybox - Commentary track (Blu-ray only) *

Beginnings with Michael Arndt (Blu-ray only) *

Bonnie's Playtime - A story roundtable (Blu-ray only) *

Roundin' Up A Western Opening (Blu-ray only) *

Goodbye Andy (Blu-ray only) *

The Accidental Toymakers Of Pixar (Blu-ray only) *

Life Of A Short (Blu-ray only) *

Making of Day And Night (Blu-ray only) *

Ken's dating tips, Lotso commercials (Blu-ray only) *

"Dancing With The Stars" at Pixar (Blu-ray only) *

Trailers and more (Blu-ray only) *

Game: Toy Story Trivia Dash (Blu-ray only) *

Alex Syntek music video (Blu-ray only)

Final Words:

"Toy Story 3" could have easily gone wrong; sequels, especially those beyond the second chapter, are generally inferior, serving mostly as a way to continue marketing a franchise. Despite being the third in the series, this movie just as fun, just as charming, just as good-looking, and just as fresh as the original 1995 film. Should I have expected a different outcome? At this point, it's becoming less and less likely that Pixar will ever go wrong. The people there know how to make movies. More to the point, they know how to tell a story. They understand that even animated films deserve mature themes that adults can appreciate. They're technical wizards. Their creativity is second to none. What will they think of next? Something great, no doubt.***


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