I make it no secret that I consider Toy Story to be the greatest film of all time. Toy Story 2 ranks not far behind it either. So when I heard there was a 3 in the making, I was excited. At the same time I was overly concerned as to how they were going to end everything.
There was a huge legal battle behind the making of the film which is part of the reason it took 11 years for the finale to be performed. With different story lines surrounding the rumor mill, it was difficult to find a good stance on what I thought of it. Now, having seen it, I am a happy camper.
The film begins similar to the first one. It opens with Andy playing with his toys which is soon revealed to be a video recording his mother is making. The game involves the two "villains" from the previous films: One-Eyed Bart and the evil Dr. Porkchop (Mr. Potato Head and Hamm respectively). It repeats a lot of the first movie which is something I love. The inside jokes are great, including the "death by monkey" sequence.
One we see it is a recording, we are given a tour of Andy's teenage years as he prepares to go to college. His mom asks him to clean his room and set aside the toys he wants to take with him and to be put in the attic. After a mishap, the toys find themselves donated to the day care. There, they meet an evil bear named Lotso, voiced by Ned Beatty, in charge of the center and running it more like a prison than anything else. He sends the toys to be "played with" in the toddler room rather than with the older children. He's another toy just tossed out by a child and replaced, thus arriving at the conclusion that all children are evil, way too similar to the Prospector character from Toy Story 2.
Then we meet Ken. Based on everything I saw, Ken has to be gay. Argue it anyway you want, but it's quite obvious. Madly in love with clothes, dots his "i"s with little hearts, is obsessed with his little pink house. Maybe I'm stereotyping, but I doubt it. He and Barbie were a perfect distraction from the serious portions of the film though at times they took away from it rather than added to it.
The film kept me entertained from beginning to end. Seeing Buzz reprogrammed into Spanish was great. Watching as Mr. Potato Head dresses himself in a tortilla shell to help escape made me laugh. Seeing the touching ending made me smile.
What had me the most worried about the film was the screenplay. How do you tell a story about toys being left behind by their owner who has outgrown toys and NOT make it depressing? Michael Arndt, in only his second screenplay debut, did a good job at trying. The movie cut it close in several places, especially at the beginning when Andy is debating over what to do about the toys.
The movie showed me Pixar has the art of making "kid's movies" down. Even though I'm 21, I enjoyed the whole movie, including the parts most kids wouldn't (thankfully) understand. Much like the first film's playful banter between Bo Peep and Woody, the innuendos shared between Jessie and the Spanish speaking Buzz makes you wonder if it really is a "kid's movie".
I can only give this film four stars because of what it lacks. Both it and Toy Story 2 fail to meet the one aspect that made Toy Story the greatest film of all time. In both 2 and 3, there is a villain determined to stop the toys because he views children as cold-hearted and evil. In the first film, all that mattered was getting home. The only "villain" was Sid, though he was more of a pest than a villain as his goal wasn't to stop the toys on their quest but rather torture them for his own enjoyment. True, that makes him a bad guy, but not your typical Antagonist character.
The music fit perfectly. Ranging from the horrid orchestral piece symbolizing the destructive toddlers to the nicely written Latin rendition of "You Got A Friend". There was also some nicely disguised tributes to films such as "The Magnificent Seven" and even "Star Wars". Not as good as UP's soundtrack, but definitely went with the film and made it more enjoyable. Bringing back Randy Newman was an excellent decision.
All in all, the film is great. As an avid Toy Story fan, I can say this is one for to add to your collection. Looking back at the series as a whole, this definitely belongs with my two other favorite trilogies: Star Wars IV, V, VI and The Lord of the Rings. Some may say I'm overstepping some boundaries here, but I know it to be true. Such trilogies that are inspiring and as dramatic as three children's movies are rare, especially when one of them changed film making as we know it.
It's interesting to catch all the hidden Star Wars references included in the trilogy as well. Such as action figures based on space series (Buzz Lightyear/Any Star Wars Character), learning your father is your arch-nemesis (Luke and Vader/Buzz and Zerg) and throwing your leader into his "doom" (Vader and the Emperor/the Baby and Lotso).
No sequel will ever be as good as the original (though some movies come close). This one wrapped everything up in a nice package for us to enjoy and be content with the journey the toys made from the first movie to the last. Personally I hope they leave it at this and not make another Toy Story film, though people are already asking. If we want a sloppy, rushed group of sequels, I hear they're already working on another Shrek movie.