Twitter Plot Summary: Andy’s off to college and doesn’t play with the toys anymore. They’re accidentally shipped off to a day care centre where trouble is afoot.
Director: Lee Unkrich
Key Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger.
Five Point Summary:
1. Senor Buzz is awesome.
2. Lotso The Bear. Nasty piece of work.
3. Ken (of Barbie fame) is surprisingly entertaining.
4. If toys could actually walk and talk, their hopes and fears would be exactly as this film presents them.
5. How bleak did that ending almost turn out?
The main review below was originally posted on www.randomstoat.com on 23 September 2010.
I worried before walking into the Imax ahead of seeing Toy Story 3. I’d planned ahead and visited the toilet beforehand; I was fully aware of the immense scale of the Imax screen (note to self: sitting in the back row is probably the best place if you want to see the whole screen); I even made sure I had safely stored my recent purchases in a rucksack so as to avoid spilling them on the Imax floor (because we all know how awkward it is fumbling around on the floor as people try to restrain their bile and disgust). No, my concern was… how can Pixar make another Toy Story film work? After all, it’s been 15 years since the first film was released, technology and films have moved on quite a way (although perhaps not as much as the visual effects gap between the 80s and 90s).
Suffice to say I shouldn’t have worried, really. This is the studio who said they’d never release a sequel unless they could get the story right. So way back in 1999 we got Toy Story 2, which was a superb follow-up to the original and did what all good sequels should do. That is, it didn’t duplicate the plot of the first film and just tweak a few elements to give it a fresher look (see Jaws 2 and Robocop 2 as prime examples). Instead we had a fresh tale with the characters we already knew, and that is no different here.
Admittedly it starts on a bit of a downer (after a very impressive and EPIC intro sequence involving the red monkeys and evil Dr Pork-Chop). After the dulcet and slightly “special” song from Randy Newman, Andy has grown up, there’s only a handful of his toys left, and he’s about to head off to college. So, the toys are worried that he’ll just throw them away – we have after all lost just about all of the cast from the first two films, including Bo Peep, Etch-A-Sketch and all but three of the green army soldiers. Naturally Woody believes that Andy will bag them up and leave them in the attic, but the other toys, Buzz included, aren’t quite sure what will happen. It’s all a bit grim.
Before it all gets too depressing, Andy’s dog Buster shows up. I loved the appearance of Buster. He’s an old dog now, certainly in no condition to replicate the derring-do that he demonstrated at the start of Toy Story 2. And that’s exactly what Woody, and the audience, is expecting. Things don’t work out quite the same way, and it’s clear how far CGI animation has come in the last 11 years just based on Buster’s fur alone.
Andy, being a typical teenager, throws his toys into a black bag with the intention of leaving them in the attic. Then Andy’s mum appears as Andy is distracted by his sister, and naturally, she sees a black bag and assumes it’s rubbish to be thrown out. Disaster is averted, of course (otherwise there wouldn’t be a story), so the toys decide to leave for Sunnyside Daycare, a nirvana-esque haven for toys that is established in the first 10 minutes of the film.
The group hear toys are treated well and played with/used by kids all day. Again this is another classic case of Toy Story misinterpretation as we are introduced to a whole batch of new characters. Lotso the Bear (smells of strawberries) is in charge of day care, and around him are a number of toys including a rather scary baby, an insect type thing that looks like a He-Man toy range knockoff, and the best new character of the film – Ken of Barbie fame.
Michael Keaton plays him perfectly (which makes me wonder – where’s he been since the 1980s?), and he sparkles in every scene. Especially when he accessorises. There’s yet more misdirection as it turns out Daycare is in fact a prison dictatorship ruled over by Lotso. Andy’s toys are left in pre-school (Rex has the best line where he says the toys aren’t age appropriate for those kids), and Woody leaves so he can get back to Andy. Woody gets a taste of the good life outside of Day Care with Bonnie and her own toys (fantastic appearance from Timothy Dalton, easily my favourite “person who played Bond” but NOT my favourite Bond – that accolade goes to Sean Connery). Woody realizes he has to get the others out and hatches a plan to break IN to Sunnyside.
We then get an homage to all the great prison break movies ever released, as the toys try to escape from Lotso’s maniacal day care prison and return to Andy before he leaves. It’s a fantastic sequence as the plan comes together, none more so than what Mr Potato Head has to go through. Put it this way, you’ll never look at a naan bread or a cucumber the same way ever again…
The ending looks like a rip from Star Wars Episode 3 but with toys undead of slightly more wooden actors (I was half expecting someone to shout “You were the Chosen One!!!” and lop off someone’s limbs), and just when it looks like it’s all going to end, an appropriate Deus Ex Machina pops up, harking back to the original film. The ending that follows is appropriately upbeat and, dare I say it, leaves the series open for further sequels. I hope that if Pixar did decide to make a follow-up they treat it with the same respect they have shown to even other film they have made and, most importantly, don’t rush it.
And it would be pointless to review the film if I didn’t at least mention Senor Buzz. Absolute. Genius. That is all.
Favourite scene: The escape from Sunnyside Daycare and the multiple homages to WW2 prisoner of war movies.
Quote: “Are you classically trained?”
Silly Moment: Senor Buzz. Not silly per se, but amusing and happens unexpectedly.