It's been 15 years since the first Toy Story film hit theatres and introduced the mainstream audience to Pixar Animation Studios. A very successful sequel, Toy Story 2, hit theatres in 1999 and is actually considered by many to be superior to the first, a true rarity in sequels. Today, we're looking at the latest, and final, addition to the series, Toy Story 3.
Toy Story 3 follows Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and most of the familiar faces from the first two films as they see that Andy has grown up and is off to college. Andy originally intends for them to go into the attic, but because of a mixup, they end up getting donated to a local daycare centre. The toys there are very welcoming, including Barbie's counterpart Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton) and a stuffed bear named Lotso (Ned Beatty). The rest of the gang thinks that the place is a paradise, but Woody is adamant that they get back to Andy's place. Once the toys see what life at daycare is really like, they begin to wonder just how truly playful their new roommates are.
Let's take a moment to talk about the animation. The animation is insanely detailed and is easily Pixar's best work. There are xBox games with less details to environment than this movie, it's insane! The characters, organic or synthetic, move so fluently and the animation is damn near perfect that I have to take my hat off to Pixar for truly outdoing themselves here.
The casting is wonderful, as per usual with Toy Story. The original gang (what's left of them, anyway) easily fit back into the character shoes they last stepped in 11 years ago and the new characters do not feel like they've been forced in. Much like the animation, the style of how the characters react and play off one another is amazing. The only other thing I have to say about this part here, and I know that this is going to sound really gay, but I wanted to see more Ken. He stole every scene he was in.
Now, with trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible (if you are like me and didn't catch the film in the theatres), let's talk about the story, or more so, the underlying message. The first film was about accepting change while the second was about deciding which was more worthwhile: wealth or family. Toy Story 3 is about saying goodbye, to an extent. The toys are having to accept that Andy doesn't want to play with them anymore, not because he doesn't care, but because he's grown up. This may sound fairly harmless but it takes a darker tone as the film progresses and in its own little way, is telling the audience to say goodbye to this franchise (Pixar has confirmed they are NOT planning a Toy Story 4, but maybe some animation shorts featuring the characters) as most of the fans of the original are adults now. I'm fine with having this film being the last Toy Story, but something about the dark tone didn't sit right with me. Maybe it's because I collect toys (not from this franchise, mind you), but perhaps some of us want to stay a little kid with some aspects of their lives and there's parts of this movie that are basically smacking you on the back of your head and saying, "STOPPIT!"
Is this movie still enjoyable? Absolutely. Does it have laughs? Yes, a lot, and only one of them being a poop joke (and an actually fairly decent one at that). Would I recommend it? Yeah, but I do have a message for those who have been with this series from the beginning: it's very dark and emotional (one scene in the third act will require tissues). Younger fans of the franchise may not be affected as much by the depth of the story, but those who have been attached to these characters for 15 years will be. This whole bit about Toy Story 3 trying to be darker and subliminally telling you to say goodbye to your childhood originally made my nose wrinkle a bit and would've made me think less of this movie, but when I stopped and realized that movie about a cowboy doll and a spaceman action figure elicited that kind of reaction from me, it dawned on me that this was a powerful film and was obviously doing something right.
Is Toy Story 3 the best of the series? Maybe, maybe not. I guess it all depends on what you're looking for. If you want more kid-orientated entertainment, then no. However, if you're wanting something that kids and adults can enjoy on an equal level, this might be the movie for you. If you haven't seen it yet, look into it and see the closing chapter to Toy Story.