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MOVIE REVIEW: Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3: Rates a B.
Courtesy photo

I couldn’t believe Toy Story came out 15 years earlier than this third installment. It seems like only yesterday. Well, it kind of was for me. My girlfriend had never seen the first two, so we rented them before seeing the latest.

And this version isn’t as good as the first two, although many people (at least 10 of my friends, and at least 10 critics I glanced at), all said it’s the best of the trilogy.

Andy is off to college, and…what’s a toy to do?

Not sure why he decided to take Woody to college with him.

I once interviewed Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen, and someone walked by and yelled to him, “I had a poster of you on my wall in college.” Nielsen smiled and said, “I bet that severely hurt your chances of getting laid.” I thought of those very words as Woody was placed in the cardboard box of things going to college (as you can guess, the other toys weren’t as lucky).

(Note to self: Find out if any other review of Toy Story 3 uses the word “laid.”)

I enjoy the new characters – Michael Keaton voicing a very metrosexual Ken doll (but did they really need to play Dream Weaver when they meet? That’s been done in film before). Of course, I’m picky about soundtracks. For instance, I don’t know why when the toys get involved in a prison escape they didn’t play Thin Lizzy or AC/DCs “Jailbreak.”

Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Garlin, Timothy Dalton, Bonnie Hunt and Richard Kind provide some new voices, but they come and go so quickly, you probably won’t catch ‘em.

The one new character that gets a big role is a hugging bear, voiced nicely by Ned Beatty. He may hug a lot, but his motley crew of day care toys consists of a huge, scary baby with a broken (lazy) eye, a sticky octopus and a clapping monkey that bashes in Woody’s head at one point. Which brings up another point that many have debated – should this movie have been rated PG? I say the G is just fine, but to the two couples that felt it was appropriate for their babies, no it wasn’t. A G rating doesn’t mean you just distract all those around you, dummies. Hire a babysitter, and wait for it on video.

The stories brought to the table all work well – toys debating the benefits of a life in the attic or at a day care, finding new owners, growing older (including the dog). A lot of this though, is territory that the previous movies have covered – toys feeling abandoned, the evil toy (anyone remember Stinky Pete in Toy Story 2?), and the Spanish speaking Buzz Lightyear is hysterical, especially with his Flamenco dance steps (not sure how that scene will work in Mexico); but when he becomes a prison guard, it reminded me of Toy Story 2 also.

When Hamm (the pig, voiced by Cheers’ Cliff Claven) describes locks on a window in specific detail, it would’ve been funny if we hadn’t seen his character do that previously. And that’s exactly my point. They’re going to the well one too many times.

When characters are introduced that love Shakespeare, or are speaking telephones we all remember from our childhood...give them more jokes.

The fear the toys have of being donated, is very similar to the garage sale in a previous film, although this time we have the added element of a garbage truck (and in a sneaky move, they make the evil neighbor Sid, who disfigured toys in the first movie, one of the garbage men). I’m not sure why they had to give us three different scenes inside a garbage truck, or why one that had them on the verge of being burned and made landfill, went on a few minutes too long in order to build suspense.

That’s really just nitpicking, though. I have a hard time thinking anyone would be disappointed with this. There are just too many clever gags. You sometimes wonder how they even came up with this stuff; climbing up a vending machine, to gamble on a See ‘N Say as if it’s a roulette wheel. That’s just inspired writing.

I sat there with a smile on my face the whole time, and the occasional LOL moment.

The final few scenes are emotional, and quite beautifully done.

The closing credits are clever (why can’t more movies make closing credits we enjoy, the way The Hangover and this did?). Another beneficial thing about having credits in this that we can stay and enjoy – it’ll give some of us adults time to regroup from a cry we had minutes earlier.

I’m giving this a B.