Andy (John Morris (voice)) is preparing to leave for college and must choose what to do with his toys. He decides to keep Woody (Tom Hanks (voice)) and put the rest in the attic. However, the toys are mistakenly delivered to Sunnyside Daycare. Thinking that Andy was throwing them out, Buzz (Tim Allen (voice)), Jessie (Joan Cusack (voice)), and the rest of the gang choose to stay at Sunnyside where the will be played with everyday. They soon discover than Sunnyside isn’t as cheerful as they thought and try to return home.
When I heard Pixar was making a third Toy Story film, I was filled with excitement. I had grown up with Woody, Buzz, Rex, Hamm, Mr. Potato Head and the rest of the gang. And Andy was about to head off to college, an experience I went through a few years earlier. Basically, I had been waiting 11 years for this moment. But the question was could Pixar deliver a third fantastic outing with these characters? You bet they can!
One thing I think is interesting about all three of the Toy Story movies is that Andy doesn’t appear much in any of the films, but he is the heart and soul of them. Everything the toys do is for Andy. Why does Woody need to get back to Andy’s house after getting lost? To be there for Andy. Why does Buzz want to rescue Woody from Al? So he’s there for Andy. Why does Buzz tell Woody going into a museum is a terrible idea? Because Andy can’t play with him behind glass. Why does Woody want the other toys back home instead of at Sunnyside Daycare? To be there for Andy when he needs them. Why doesn’t Woody want to stay with Bonnie even though Andy doesn’t play with anymore? To be there for Andy. I didn’t realize how this ran through all the movies. Like, I understood it was there, but not how prominent Andy is despite his limited presence until watching them so close together.
Another thing I noticed from watching all the films together is that each movie builds on the theme of the movie preceding it. I also mentioned this in my review of Toy Story 2. Toy Story was about building friendship, Toy Story 2 was about accepting that everything has an end and to be there for your friends while it lasts. Now, Toy Story 3 is about letting go. The message has grown up with the franchise’s audience.
Pixar single-handedly created the computer animated film with Toy Story in 1995. In the fifteen years since, it has come along way. One of the benefits of revisiting these characters and this world is it acts as a great measuring tool to see how far computer animation has come in that time. Toy Story 3 is absolutely stunningly gorgeous. The animation is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was a decade and a half earlier. Everything is so colorful and full of life. The daycare especially with all its colorful walls, paintings, and furniture. Even the dark contrasts, such as the toy’s gambling area inside the vending machine or rainy scene with Lotso, which are up there with How to Train Your Dragon. It’s breathtaking to think how far animation has come and that it still is only going to get better.
You’ve done all this reading and I haven’t even gotten into talking about the film itself yet. Sunnyside Daycare is one of the most unique places created in the Toy Story universe. There are so many toys it’s ridiculous. Lots-O-Huggins Bear, voiced by Ned Beatty, may be my favorite Toy Story villain. I think his motivations were deeper than Stinky Pete’s from the previous film. Although he did feel similar to Pete in that he hid his true self under a fun, happy visage. His inner circle were all unique, too. The popular Ken, a stretchy octopus, and a few others for muscle round out the group.
Bonnie’s toys were all enjoyable as well. I found it hilarious that Jeff Garlin voiced the unicorn Buttercup. His voice isn’t what I would expect to come out of the mouth of a unicorn, which may be why it works so well. Timothy Dalton was the perfect fit for the Shakespearean Mr. Pricklepants. Another favorite of mine was Kristen Schaal as Trixie, another dinosaur toy. She was so full of energy and spunk.
The story feels like a natural progression of Woody and Buzz’s journey. We all have been through (or will go through) a time when we have to let something, or someone, go that we dearly love. In typical Pixar fashion, this was handled with care and in a way that all audiences, young and old, could understand. For many of the kids who grew up with Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and the parents forced to watch them too, the ending was very powerful, not leaving a single eye dry. It was an organic and very fitting conclusion to the characters’ story arc.
I think the only knock I have against this film is that the ending gets very dark. I had the same problem with Up, except that was in the beginning. It just wasn’t a place I expected the movie to go and took me out of it for a little while.
Toy Story 3 perfectly closes the story of Woody and Buzz. There are a ton of fun, new characters and places. Every time I go into a Pixar movie, I expect to be torn apart emotionally. There have bee many tear jerking moments that have happened because of Pixar, but the final scene between Andy and Bonnie hit me the hardest. The Toy Story series is such an emotional journey and I’m proud to say I’ve been there very step of the way.
Cast & Crew
Lee Unkrich – Director / Story
John Lasseter – Story
Andrew Stanton – Story
Michael Arndt – Screenplay
Randy Newman – Composer
Tom Hanks – Woody (voice)
Tim Allen – Buzz Lightyear (voice)
Joan Cusack – Jessie (voice)
Don Rickles – Mr. Potato Head (voice)
Wallace Shawn – Rex (voice)
John Ratzenberger – Hamm (voice)
Estelle Harris – Mrs. Potato Head (voice)
Blake Clark – Slinky Dog (voice)
Jodi Benson – Barbie (voice)
Ned Beatty – Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear (voice)
Michael Keaton – Ken (voice)
John Morris – Andy (voice)
Laurie Metcalf – Andy’s Mom (voice)
Beatrice Miller – Molly (voice)
Emily Hahn – Bonnie (voice)
Lori Alan – Bonnie’s Mom (voice)
Teddy Newton – Chatter Telephon (voice)
Timothy Dalton – Mr. Pricklepants (voice)
Kristen Schaal – Trixie (voice)
Jeff Garlin – Buttercup (voice)
Bonnie Hunt – Dolly (voice)
Bud Luckey – Chuckles (voice)
Charlie Bright – Pea-in-a-Pod / Young Andy (voice)
Amber Kroner – Pea-in-a-Pod (voice)
Brianna Maiwand – Pea-in-a-Pod (voice)
John Cygan – Twitch (voice)
Whoopi Goldberg – Stretch (voice)
Jack Angel – Chunk (voice)
Jan Rabson – Sparks (voice)
Richard Kind – Bookworm (voice)
R. Lee Ermey – Sarge (voice)