Friday, June 18, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Toy Story 3 (2010)

TOY STORY 3 (2010) is must viewing for anyone who has seen the first two films. We saw it this evening in "Disney Digital 3D." The movie is very funny, very scary, and yes, as you may have heard by now, very touching.

If you love Woody, Buzz, and the gang, and especially if you're a parent, it's pretty much guaranteed you're going to spend the last few minutes of the movie crying. The combination of viewers' long history with these characters, who debuted 15 years ago, and the emotions of the film itself turn on the waterworks, but the moment is earned and not manipulative; as one reviewer says, "Pixar has been the Fort Knox of honest feelings, and so it remains." (The same reviewer says the film is "gorgeously joyous and deeply felt.") Fortunately Pixar included some very funny scenes in the end credits so viewers have time to dry their eyes before the theater lights come up!

The film is beautifully acted, as always, by the combination of Pixar's animators and a superb cast, headed first and foremost by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. Hanks has made many great films in his career, but his voice work for Woody will likely prove to be one of his most enduring legacies. Allen likewise continues to be memorable as "to infinity and beyond" Buzz; he's aided in this film by Javier Fernandez Pena. A "reset" button turning Buzz into a flamenco dancing Spanish-speaking version of the toy is one of the most inspired ideas in the entire trilogy. The Spanish Buzz even manages to turn the head of a "senorita," tomboyish cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack).

Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, John Ratzenberger, Wallace Shawn, and R. Lee Ermey are back as Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Hamm, Rex, and Sarge, the head of the Green Army Men. Blake Clark plays Slinky Dog, replacing the late Jim Varney. The Little Green Men from the Pizza Planet claw machine are also back, and there's a great payoff in their reappearance. John Morris and Laurie Metcalf likewise return as the toys' owner, Andy, and his mom. New toys are voiced by Bonnie Hunt, Timothy Dalton, and Ned Beatty.

One year ago I was curious about Bo Peep (Annie Potts) being noticeably missing from the movie trailer. Her absence is briefly explained.

Jodi Benson (THE LITTLE MERMAID) returns as Barbie; her scenes with Ken (Michael Keaton) are the funniest in the movie, along with Buzz's Spanish-language scenes. As Kenneth Turan wrote in today's L.A. Times, "To see...Ken (Michael Keaton) show off his extensive wardrobe for Barbie (Jodi Benson) or to witness Buzz Lightyear when he goes into an unexpected flamenco mode is to be in the presence of the unforgettable."

Along with the hilarity, the film has a great deal of tension and suspense. Some reviewers compare the film to STALAG 17 (1953) or THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963). The trash compactor sequence from the original STAR WARS (1977) also comes to mind at one point. (Indeed, one of the pleasures of watching the film is the way it builds on the rich, familiar history of movies past.) The final section of the escape sequence is terrifying enough that parents of sensitive children may wish to preview the film first, despite its G rating.

TOY STORY 3 was directed by Lee Unkrich. It runs 103 minutes.

SlashFilm has a list of the film's "Easter eggs" -- personal references and tributes to other films hidden in the movie. For instance, a postcard hanging in Andy's room is signed by the characters from UP...and in Bonnie's room, there's a character who was included to pay tribute to Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.

More reviews can be found at MiceAge, MousePlanet, NPR, CNN, and my earlier post Toy Story 3 (2010): The Reviews Are In.

DAY & NIGHT (2010), the six-minute Pixar short which accompanies TOY STORY 3, is quite original and provides excellent "value added" for the price of the movie ticket.

8 Comments:

Blogger Tom said...

I went to go see this last night - without having seen part 2 - and enjoyed it enough to want to see it again. Thought it was well written and lots of great sequences. I liked the homage to Cool Hand Luke, with the "box" turning out to be a sandbox. And that cymbal-banging monkey was a great idea - those toys have always creeped me out ever since the 80s horror movie "Monkey Shines". This did not disappoint.

7:11 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

Great review. Just enough to peak anyone's interest without giving too much away. I can hardly wait to see it.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Sally said...

Great review! I can't wait to see it!!

11:25 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That kind of "movie familiarity" seemed to be reflected so many times in the film, Tom. It was a very rich viewing experience.

I'm glad you liked it, Irene! While I tend to be more open about the plots of older movies, which have been available for decades and seen by many people, I didn't want to say too much for all those people who will be seeing it this summer! I'll look forward to your feedback.

Hope you enjoy the movie too, Sally! Would love anyone who sees it to share your thoughts here. :)

Best wishes,
Laura

11:51 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

A postscript, one of my favorite "familiar" moments was when Barbie seems to be channeling Elle from LEGALLY BLONDE, indignantly protesting about "the consent of the governed!"

Best wishes,
Laura

3:26 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Thanks for sharing that postscript Laura. I never saw "LB" so I didn't get that part.

By the way, today I went to go see the movie again for a second time. The first time, I missed how Woody got his hat back.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

Went to see it today and everything that has been said about it is true. Pixar is so good at these things. So many things I liked - Ken and Barbi, oh my gosh :) Jennifer was remarking on the clothes and said "I remember that one". I loved the way he walked because a) his legs didn't bend and b) did you ever try to keep shoes on Ken? And yes, I cried ;) I'll probably go see it again and will purchase the DVD.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

LOL. I do seem to recall it was hard getting shoes on Ken... So glad you liked it too, Irene! I'm thinking the DVD may be out around Thanksgiving.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

Best wishes,
Laura

6:06 PM  

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