Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Toy Story III (2010)
Wow, what a return.
Eleven years after Toy Story II, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tom Allen) and the gang are back for the third chapter in this enormously enteraining animated series.
HE DOESN'T LOVE US ANYMORE
Here's a rare example of a film series that keeps on delivering the goods. For every The Empire Strikes Back, there's plenty of Back to the Future IIs. Translation: the magic that made the first film so good, and Back to the Future was a very well-made film, is long gone.
Toy Story III is a wonderful film packed with humour and touching emotion. Just don't let the really young ones anywhere near this comedy from director Lee Unkrich.
TOO INTENSE FOR YOUNGER ONES
A near-death experience for Woody and friends near the film's end is intense enough for adult viewers, let alone youngsters. Nightmares would appear to be a given if children get a look-see at this film. I'm not a parent, but I'm guessing anyone under eight would be really upset by Toy Story III. Parents, feel free to weigh in with your suggestions.
Andy (John Morris) is leaving for college. His room must be cleaned out before he ships out.
Woody and company haven't received much attention in a very long time. Andy has grown up and left his old friends behind. Dissension is in the ranks. Woody argues their loyalty should remain with Andy. He is their boy. Others want to experience the joy of being with a child again. It's a fair argument.
PARADISE OR PRISON?
The gang ends up donated to a nursery. Their new venue appears promising. It's big. It's colourful. There are plenty of children. "We hit the jackpot," cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack) suggests. But the nursery is overseen by Lotsa (Ned Beatty), a bitter stuffed bear who lost the attention of a little girl years ago. This bruin's bad. His creepy baby henchman is a disturbing sight.
It's up to Woody to free his friends and get back to Andy's home. Time is short. He leaves soon for school.
Toy Story III works in many ways.
WELCOME ABOARD, KEN
The addition of Ken (Michael Keaton) is a real hoot. Here's a guy who has his issues. "I'm not a girl's toy," he argues at one point. He discovers Barbie (Jodi Benson) is part of Woody's posse. As much as he loves her, Ken is also part of Lotsa's gang. But Barbie, who has a brain in this film, knows just what buttons to push to break him.
Lotsa has turned the daycare into a prison. This sets up the film's breakout plot. Chatter Telephone (Teddy Newton) is the sage old-timer who breaks down all the challenges Woody et al have to overcome to gain their freedom. A toy monkey is their chief nemesis. How he is described is a real treat.
Toy Story III also delivers some real howlers of dialogue, including a fantastic description of Lotsa's evil ways and Ken's laments for fashion appreciation.
Unkrich has helmed each of the Toy Story films. Each is great fun. Anyone for Toy Story IV? I'm game.
FUN FACTS: Jodi Benson first voiced Barbie in Dance! Workout with Barbie in 1992. She was also Ariel in The Little Mermaid.
Blake Clark, who appears as Slinky Dog, was a military police officer in the final episode of M*A*S*H.
Labels: animation, blake clark, don rickles, estelle harris, joan cusack, jodi benson, john morris, john ratzenberger, lee unkrich, ned beatty, teddy newton, tim allen, tom hanks, wallace shawn
Reel Popcorn Junkie is a reporter with a newspaper in the province of Ontario in Canada. He began writing film reviews when he was a student at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. Reel Popcorn Junkie continues to write entertainment copy for a daily newspaper, but not film reviews. Reel Popcorn Junkie always orders a regular popcorn, with no butter, when he attends the cinema.