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DVD Review: "Toy Story 3"

By It's My Life on November 2, 2010 3:33 PM | No TrackBacks

How do you deal with change? Do you have a hard time coping when your life takes a sharp turn and heads off in a new direction? Do you find it difficult to adjust as you get older, and things turn out to be a lot different from when you were a little kid? Or are these transitions smooth and easy for you? IML'ers talk about these issues a lot. That's one of the reasons why "Toy Story 3" was such a big hit among young people when it was released last summer, and one of the reasons why you might want to check out the new DVD and Blu-ray release. Plus the fact that most tweens and teens today have grown up with the "Toy Story" movies, and in a way, Woody, Buzz, and the gang are their toys too.

toystory3.jpgIn the movie, Andy Davis, the boy who made the toys a huge part of his life, is now a teenager preparing to leave home for his first year of college. Talk about change! But what to do with all those beloved toys that he hasn't played with in years? Woody, Andy's favorite, will get a trip to college to keep Andy company and maybe decorate his dorm room desk. As for the rest, like Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, and Hamm the Piggy Bank...well, Andy just can't bear to throw them out or to put them in the donation box marked for a nearby preschool, so he puts them in a garbage bag and prepares to store them up in the attic. But the toys, thinking that they're destined for the landfill, opt for the preschool box instead, finding themselves, along with would-be rescuer Woody, at a daycare center called Sunnyside filled with kids who will give them plenty of what every toy really wants: playtime. But Sunnyside, as we soon learn, is not as sunny as it seems, and this change in life is not destined to be a positive one for the "Toy Story" posse. Their only chances for a happy future are to find a way out, or change the way things are done at Sunnyside (or maybe both).

So what, you may ask, do we really think about this latest offering from Pixar? Well, we'll tell you!

We Love:

Grown-up Andy. We know from the first two "Toy Story" movies that Andy is a good kid. But in this movie we learn that Andy grew up to be a genuinely nice guy. We also love that Andy is voiced by the same actor who played him in "Toy Story 1" and "Toy Story 2": John Morris, who is all grown up too.

New Toys. The "Toy Story" gang gets bigger with each new movie. The second film gave us Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl and Woody's horse Bullseye, as well as the bad guy named Stinky Pete. This time around we meet a whole new family of toys, owned by a little girl named Bonnie. Among the new toys are Trixie, a goofy, nervous girl triceratops (who seems like a perfect match for another dinosaur toy we know), Mr. Pricklepants, a hedgehog who fancies himself a great actor, a wise-cracking doll named Dolly (what else?), and a sad, embittered clown named Chuckles (again, what else?). We like these new characters a lot, and we're a bit disappointed that they don't get much screen time. We really wanted to see more of them and to see them developed further, but we understand that the older, more popular "Toy Story" characters (who after all carry the story) are the real stars here. So...how about a "Bonnie's Toys" spin-off movie? We'd go see it!

Big Baby. Bonnie's toys aren't the only new characters here.There's also a whole truckload of toys at Sunnyside. Our unlikely favorite is Big Baby, the creepy baby doll enforcer who keeps the toys in line with her menacing lazy-eye stare. Weird, spooky, and funny.

Ken and Barbie. You probably remember Tour Guide Barbie from the last movie, but this time she meets the man of her dreams (or is he?) in the form of the handsome and groovy male fashion doll Ken. Voiced by Michael Keaton, Ken provides a lot of great laughs in the movie, and we're quite frankly blown away that the same actor has now played Batman and a Ken doll.

Guest Stars. There are a lot of cameos and "easter eggs" in Pixar movies for those of you who look closely enough. For instance, did you know that the Pizza Planet delivery truck from the original Toy Story appears in every Pixar film except "The Incredibles"? It's true! There are a bunch of these little extras in "Toy Story 3," but we have two favorites. Sid Phillips, the bad-boy toy abuser from the first "Toy Story" makes a quick and funny appearance as the local garbageman. You can't see his face, but his trademark skull tee-shirt makes it clear that this is Andy's former neighbor. Our other favorite cameo is a toy owned by Bonnie, the little girl who saves Woody from Sunnyside. Among her toy collection is a plush doll of Totoro, from the great Japanese animated movie "My Neighbor Totoro." We at IML are huge fans of Totoro and all the Studio Ghibli movies, and so are the gals and guys at Pixar. They included this cameo as a tribute to their friend, Totoro director Hayao Miyazaki, and we think it's a total treat to see a toy version of Totoro in a "Toy Story" movie.

Day & Night. Most Pixar movies include an opening short cartoon, and the one included with Toy Story 3 is one of our favorites. It's strange, artsy, experimental...and thoroughly delightful. Watch it as an appetizer before the feature or a nice dessert afterwards, but definitely watch it.

DVD Extras. The bonus materials on the DVD and Blu-ray are pretty cool, especially if you're interested in how animation is created. There's an enhanced commentary track that gives us behind-the-scenes stories and cool sketches used in making the movie, as well as some very fun and informative short documentaries that mix making-of footage with shots of all the voice actors laying down the dialogue recordings. One of our faves is the doc that shows how all the real toys, based on the on-screen toys, are made. For you true "Toy Story" fanatics, there's even a two-player interactive trivia game that tests your knowledge of all three films.

Not So Much:

Lotso. We're not going to ruin the end of the story by revealing the fate of Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear, the chief baddie in this story. Let's just say that we were kinda hoping for something else, and that we're not sure we'd ever want to buy a Lotso doll as a gift for anyone. At least not for anyone we really like!

Scary Moments. Okay, we understand that most IML readers won't be scared by anything they see in "Toy Story 3." But what about your younger sibs? The thing that's great about the Pixar films is that they appeal to people of all ages, from adults and teens right down to preschoolers. But "Toy Story 3" has some moments that definitely cross the line and will frighten the youngest fans. We get that the filmmakers want to ratchet up the drama for the older viewers, but this level of danger can be too intense for the little kids who are really the core "Toy Story" audience. If you're watching this with littler kids, keep that in mind.

IML's Rating: A-

We thought you might enjoy this bonus clip about John Morris, who's been doing the voice of Andy since he was 7 years old!




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