The film opens with an extended imaginative sequence reintroducing us to all of the characters through another story of Andy’s imagination. As we travel to the present, the dream may be over. Andy is ready to move off to college in a few days, which means he is saying goodbye to all of his toys. Woody (Tom Hanks) prepares the rest of the group for their trip to the attic. Before they can get there, they are accidently donated to Sunnyside Day Care.
At first look, Sunnyside seems perfect. It’s a constant rotation of children who want to play with them, instead of letting them collect dust in a bin. However, there are two factions of Sunnyside: the room for the toddlers who treat toys like monsters and the room for the older children who treat toys with care. The whole system is run by a big pink bear named Lotso (Ned Betty). It becomes clear that our heroes are going to have to escape and return to Andy.
Pixar is always pushing the boundaries of children’s films. Their films are always about intelligent themes that are full of lessons for all ages. With Toy Story 3 it focuses on loyalty and abandonment. At this point in the saga Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Rex, Hamm, and Slinky are important figures to its audience. They have been around for 15 years and the film uses their long-term friendship in a powerful way. The film puts the toys in a lot of peril where it is uncertain their ultimate outcome. It has been some time when the stakes of characters felt this personal. Usually that is reserved for television characters, because of the amount of hours spent with them.
Like every Pixar film, it has these heavy issues but it does not overpower the story. This movie is a lot of fun from beginning to end. Like Andy, the creative geniuses behind this movie is brimming with imagination and love for storytelling. Treating Sunnyside like a maximum-security prison was a brilliant idea and led to some very inventive escape techniques that used every single member of their team.
Everyone has a chance to be genuinely funny during the film. We get to see a new side of Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) where it proves he’s quite the dancer. New characters like Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton reprising his Hot Fuzz level of cheesiness) and Trixie (Kristen Schaal) only have a little bit of screentime but are definitely worthy of being part of the gang. The one that everyone will be talking about is Ken who is voiced by Michael Keaton. He has the ego of Buzz from the original tale, but the closet of a Sex and the City character.
From beginning to end this movie works and it concludes in a way that is bound to please everyone. Sequels from Hollywood are typically seen as films that rarely live up to its original. Hopefully this set of films can show the promise of a truly satisfying trilogy from beginning to end. Thank you Pixar.