Toy Story became the gold standard of animation after it hit screens in 1995 and put Pixar on the map as the studio to watch. It wasn’t just the amazing computer-generated animation (which was mind-blowing at the time), but how well the story was written and presented with real emotion (it was much more than a “cartoon about toys”). Toy Story 2 (1999) followed the first film perfectly, and became one of the best sequels ever made (some put it in the same category as The Godfather II and The Empire Strikes Back). Toy Story 3 keeps the tradition alive, and is not only the most intriguing of the three both visually and in story, but is also one of best of films of the year.
As Andy (voice of John Morris) packs his room in preparation for college, his few remaining toys worry about what’s in store for them. Buzz (voice of Tim Allen) and Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) think they’ll be stored in the attic where they’ll collect dust for the rest of their lives. Jessie (voice of Joan Cusack), Rex (voice of Wallace Shawn), Hamm (voice of John Ratzenberger), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (voices of Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), and Slinky Dog (voice of Blake Clark) believe they’ll be thrown in the trash and turned into dust. So it’s a big surprise to all of them when they end up at Sunnyside Daycare and are sent to the toddler room by the evil dictator of the daycare toys, Lotso the Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear (voice of Ned Beatty).
In order to get back to Andy before he leaves, Woody, Buzz, and the rest of Andy’s toys must escape the clutches of Lotso and his team of demented soldiers (including the Michael Keaton-voiced Ken doll). This is where Toy Story 3 crosses into the territory of a prison break film, referencing classics like Cool Hand Luke and The Great Escape. The jokes and adventure come quick and hard with some amazing action scenes (in case I haven’t mentioned it the animation for Toy Story 3 is the best the Pixar team has ever done). It’s exciting and fun, and is just as enjoyable for adults as it is for kids.
Being a father of a young boy, Toy Story 3 affected me a great deal and I was extremely choked up while watching it. I don’t want to think about my son growing up and moving away, and the fact that this comes across onscreen from the point-of-view of Andy’s toys accepting he is no longer a little boy, and will never play with them again, absolutely crushed me. If a movie can pull my heartstrings while visually stimulating me the way Toy Story 3 did, I say give it an Oscar now.
Needless to say, Toy Story 3 on Blu-ray is a little slice of heaven. The animation is stunning in high-def, and the 7.1 DTS-HD sound mix knocked my socks off. Special features include the Pixar short Day & Night, an interactive game, multiple making-of featurettes, a roundtable with director Lee Unkrich, and much more. A digital copy and regular DVD of the film are also included.
Film ***** / Blu-ray ***** (out of 5 stars)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Michael Keaton, Joan Cusack
Directed by: Lee Unkrich