Toy Story 3 This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It's been nearly fifteen years since the release of the original Toy Story, which was the first feature film to be released under Pixar, and now the series comes to an end with Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3.At first, I was very hesitant about seeing this final entry at all. The original films had a special place in my heart as a child, and I would've hated to see this nostalgia ruined by a run-of-the-mill "kiddie flick". When all was said and done, though, I was happy to find the third Toy Story to be a great and enjoyable film. What's more, Toy Story 3 doesn't sit on the backs of the previous two films, instead standing as a proud, albeit flawed, ending to a very charming series.

Roughly ten years after the events of Toy Story 2, the film finds the toys' owner, Andy, moving off to college. The toys, having not been played with in years, are worried of their uncertain future as Andy's big moving day comes closer and unsuccessfully attempt to get Andy's attention one last time. Once faced with the decision, Andy decides to bring Woody along to college while the rest of the toys stay stored in the attic. However, because of small misstep, the toys are thrown onto the curb as trash by Andy's mother. Believing that Andy's abandoned them, the toys escape to Andy's mother's car to be donated to a daycare center while Woody, now present with the group, attempts to assure the others of Andy's mother's mistake.

Admittedly, the daycare plot isn't that great. While it's an interesting and fresh idea, the idea's nowhere near as fleshed out as the previous setups in the Toy Story films. The action drags, the ideas are hit-and-miss, and most of the newer characters are simply fair. Putting that aside, though, the rest of the film's a lot of fun. In fact, I was surprised by how much the film exceeded my expectations. I forgot how much I loved these characters, and seeing Woody and the gang back in action really warmed my heart. The charming characters are all back in prime condition, still delivering great dialogue and having lovable personalities. Woody, Buzz, Mr. Potato Head, Rex, Slinky, the aliens - the gang's all here and, thankfully, none of them have lost their magic. The first ten minutes of the film should appease nostalgia-goers, as the 'toy story' from the beginning of the original film is played out during the opening of Toy Story 3. For those who haven't seen it or don't remember, this would be the sequences with Woody facing "Dr. Porkchop", the bandit Mr. Potato Head, and the 'monkey barrel explosions'. In addition to that little detail, there are plenty of small homages to the previous two films. For instance, a careful eye should be able to recognize the garbageman as Sid - the demented neighbor from the first Toy Story. It's little details like those that should really please long-time fans.

The humor's also stayed intact since the last Toy Story Whether it be subtle or over-the-top, the characters interacting with each other and their environment remains one of the primary reasons to watch a Toy Story movie. We get some good slapstick from Woody, some witty one-liners from Ham, and some surprisingly hilarious sequences from a Spanish-version of Buzz Lightyear. I won't give anything away, but the dancing sequence with Jessie before the climax had me in stitches. Not all of the jokes work, but the failures are very few and far between.

It's humorous how anted-up the visuals are as well. The film practically brags of its new budget in the opening sequence, with huge explosions and advanced CGI to show off. Everything in the film looks sharp, fresh, and it fits the tone of the film perfectly. This is a fun-loving and original movie, and it's a shame that these movies are being pushed down in favor of "grittier" and more "hardcore" films.

Along with those mentioned before, my only other major complaint was that this film is tailored to be a crowd-pleaser. The first two films had an emotional depth and maturity that was surprising for a
"kid flick", but this new entry doesn't seem to have the same humanity of the other films. This isn't to say that this new film is bad or unemotional, as the ending had me in tears, but the laughs seem to be on a higher priority this time around.

Toy Story 3, while not as good as the previous entries, is certainly worthy of standing with the other films of the trilogy. With charming characters, great visuals, and a fun-loving setting, the film works as both a nostalgia-trip and a new chapter for younger viewers.





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