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Amazing Toy Story 3 Treat for Fathers AND Kids

Posted on June 20 2010 4:00 pm
David Forsmark is the owner and president of Winning Strategies, a full service political consulting firm in Michigan. David has been a regular columnist for Frontpage Magazine since 2006. For 20 years before that, he wrote book, movie and concert reviews as a stringer for the Flint Journal, a midsize daily newspaper.
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Pixar has accomplished with its Toy Story series what eluded the filmmakers of Superman, Star Wars, and even The Godfather.  A third film that not only lives up to its predecessors, it adds to the reputation of the original rather than tarnishing it.  (Think about it, I bet Raiders of the Lost Ark would appear a lot farther up on Top 100 lists if it weren’t for the sequels cheapening the name of Indiana Jones.)

And while Toy Story 3 has a certain finality to its ending, its excellence will have fans hoping for more, rather than thinking it’s time to move on.

But moving on is the theme of Toy Story 3, as Andy is getting ready to go to college, while his toys languish in the old toy box, desperately hoping for a little attention.  The adventure begins, when a mix-up in the packing process has the toys donated to the Sunnyside Daycare Center.

Here, the excellent voice cast led by Tom Hanks as Woody the cowboy and Tim Allen as space ranger Buzz Lightyear (along with a hilariously expanded role for Don Rickles as Mr. Potatohead) are met by Michael Keaton as a conflicted Ken doll and the ruler of Sunnyside’s toys, Lotsa Huggins, a strawberry bear memorably voiced by Ned Beatty as sort of an evil Burl Ives.

There are echoes of both Cool Hand Luke and Animal Farm in Lotsa’s reign.  One almost expects him to lament a failure to communicate or declare that some stuffed animals are more equal than others as he wields his power in ways that mirror both prison and totalitarian countries.

Woody leads the team in a Great Escape style breakout, but it’s out of the frying pan into the– literal– fire, leading to probably the scariest scenes ever filmed in a movie whose characters have legions of 3 and 4-year old fans.

Jodie Benson’s Barbie and Michael Keaton’s Ken give a lot of new energy and humor to the Toy Story lineup, while Ned Beatty’s Lotsa is the most complex villain the series has featured.  Beatty just might snag an Oscar nomination — he’s that good.

The emotional complexity of the Pixar stories is what sets them apart, and Toy Story 3 is firmly in that tradition– though nothing they’ve done can match the powerful heart of Up.  Love and loyalty, loss and sacrifice, duty and honor, are all part of the mix here.

I’ll have to see it again before I can rank Toy Story 3 in the fantastic pantheon of Pixar movies.  But at first blush,  I’d say it’s in the top half dozen with it’s two predecessors, “Upand “The Incredibles.

Actually, “The Incredibles” would be a good label for a film making team who, in 15 years of making movies not only introduced 3D animation, and whose worst movie– by far– is the reasonably entertaining Cars, which is better than some studios’ best animated feature.

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