Admirers of this blog know that animated films don’t really do it for me. This has nothing to do with how good or bad the movie is, I just have trouble identifying with cartoon characters. That said, Pixar knows how to keep a non-fan very interested. They released Up last year, which was a phenomenon, and now, a new Toy Story, the original of which ain’t half bad either.
All your favorite toys are back: Woody, Buzz, Mr. Potato Head, and so on. But now their loyal owner Andy is all grown up and soon headed off to college. His mom gives him three options: attic, donate, or trash. Unable to fully part with his toys, he opts for attic, but momma accidently sends them to a day care center instead.
The center soon turns disastrous as little toddlers rip and pull and prod at the old toys. The appointed leader of the day care, a fizzy bear named Latso, won’t let them leave. What soon unfolds is an entertaining, complex prison escape-type movie.
Look, I have only one criterion for critiquing an animated film: Can the adults enjoy it too? You know the kids are going to love it, but will you be able to sit through it without wanting to beat your head into the ground. Most adults will appreciate the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Ned Beatty and, my personal favorite, Michael Keaton (who is clearly having a blast as a Ken doll). You’ll also enjoy the fact that the movie doesn’t treat you like an idiot. Thank writer Michael Arndt (who won an Oscar four years ago for his Little Miss Sunshine screenplay) and director Lee Unkrich (Finding Nemo, Monster’s Inc.).
Much like Up, the geniuses at Pixar know how to convey real human emotion, the best of which in this film takes place during a wordless scene where each toy slowly descends into a fiery blaze. I don’t want to reveal what happens, but, if only for a moment, I believed. B+
Note: Toy Story 3 is preceded by a remarkable sort called Day & Night, which basically puts two animated creatures against a black background, displaying the daytime off one creature and nighttime off another. It’s difficult to put into words, but believe me, it alone is worth the price of admission.