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Play With Your Toys 3: Rick's Review of Toy Story 3!

Eleven years.  I am shocked that it took this long for them to make this movie.  But knowing why they did what they did, it goes without saying that it makes complete sense that it would have taken this long.  See, the story that is Toy Story 3 almost didn't happen because during the early part of last decade, Pixar was not owned by Disney.  In fact, things were so strained between the two companies, that, at the time the chances of another Pixar movie to come out of Disney were increasingly getting less and less.  The fact that Michael Eisner had the gall to even approve let alone green light another Toy Story film without the involvement of Pixar was horrifying to many fans.  But then, it could have happened as the characters were basically owned by Disney at this point after all.  Pixar was only the studio that made the movies but had no ownership of the characters. In a nutshell, the deal with Pixar was only for five movies and that last movie that Pixar was going to make for Disney was supposed to be Cars.  Their next movie, Ratatouille was very much up in the air as to who would be taking up ownership of that film.  Things had fallen through between Disney and Pixar at the time because Toy Story 2 was not included in those five movies and Pixar was informed that "sequels don't count." Here's Jim Hill's take on what exactly happened!

In an effort to make a third Toy Story film, Disney founded Circle 7 Productions.  This was supposed to be their big CG animation part of Disney.  Circle 7 because that was the street that the studio was located on.  The joke going around Hollywood was that it was the seventh circle of Hell.  The deal with the devil that would have been Toy Story 3 involved a storyline where Buzz Lightyear gets recalled and is sent back to Taiwan.  Woody and the other toys in Andy's room go to rescue him.  Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, as Michael Eisner was replaced by Bob Iger, who went and made the deal for making Pixar exclusively Disney.  The storyline involving the recall of Buzz was immediately scrapped and the intended story that gives closure to the series was put into production.  Which brings us to now with the release of what is easily one of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer, and based on early reviews, one of the best movies of the year!

I will be getting into some spoilers so if you have not seen Toy Story 3 yet, get out of your chair and get yourself to a movie theater and see the movie.  Then come back and read the rest of the review!
Toy Story 2 ended with the question what will happen to these characters when Andy goes off to college.  Toy Story 3 begins with one of the most thrilling sequences ever made, where we see exactly what Andy as a kid sees when he plays with his toys.  The result is seeing the characters as heroes, villains, and just incredibly badass.  Let's face it.  We get to see Slinky Dog become the force field dog.  Rex becomes the most ferocious dinosaur ever, and Hamm become Evil Dr. Porkchop!  Truly some greatness there and it is an absolute treat.  Then the tears start rolling with the question of what happens with the toys being answered.  Since the events of Toy Story 2, only Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), The Potato Heads (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), the Pizza Planet Aliens, and Bullseye remain.  All the other toys have been essentially lost to the ages either by yard sale, or what have you.  Andy only intends to keep Woody (Tom Hanks) as he has had Woody pretty much all his life while the other toys are destined to be relegated to the attic.  Through a series of mishaps, Woody and the other toys end up in a daycare where they are governed by a stuffed bear named Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear (voiced to perfection by Ned Beatty).  You might think that being in a daycare is a perfect ending for these toys because that means that they will be played with pretty much forever.  But it is not to be.  Because, you see, Lotso is a cute, cuddly, evil teddy bear and hates toy owners because of his tragic past.  His hatred has made the daycare a place that is not friendly to newcomer toys such as our heroes.  He places them in a room called the butterfly room which is where the toddlers play. The toddlers abuse toys and the some of what our beloved characters go through, I admit was kind of hard to watch for me.  That being said, there are some moments of major humor in this movie, many of which are the result of Michael Keaton voicing Ken.  (Yes, THAT Ken!) His scenes with Barbie are utterly hysterical.  I am leaving out some major plot points because while yes, I am delving into spoilers, there are some surprises in the movie that I won't even dream of spoiling.  The escape from the daycare is absolutely one of the high points and it leads up to the denouement of the film where the toys are sent to the dump and end up on the way to the incinerator.  It is one of the most horrifying things one could ever imagine these characters going through.  So much so that one shot in particular had me at the point of tears.   Needless to say, it does end happy.  I won't say how but the ending is truly one of the most satisfying and heartbreaking endings to a movie I have ever seen.  

Toy Story 3 is a movie about closure, it is about moving on, and growing up.  The fans who have been following these movies since the first way back in 1995 have grown up.  The artists, the animators, and the voice actors involved in the series have all aged, that goes without saying.  Andy's toys all show some degree or wear from the years of being played with.  Even the kid, who plays Andy in all three movies has grown up.  Which is what I applaud the most with Pixar.  They had the balls to wait eleven years to make it that the same actor would voice Andy in all three movies.  That is awesome and it gives continuity in ways that one cannot imagine.  Like I mentioned before, this movie, while very funny, is also very sad.  I noticed many adults in the audience tearing up, myself and my wife included. That being said, this is the absolute best movie of the summer so far if not the year.  This is the benchmark that everything else definitely needs to look to as the golden standard as far as movies for the remainder of this year.  I loved Toy Story 3.  It is a most appropriate closing to the series and I am absolutely happy to say that it was done right.  

In fashion true to Pixar, many Easter Eggs were put into the film.  You can find a comprehensive list here.  One that I did notice that I will impart is what happened to the evil kid from Toy Story, Sid.  It turns out he became a garbage man.  You can tell it's him because of the same skull shirt that he was wearing int the first movie.                

Final Rating: 5 out of 5.  Absolute highest possible recommendation.

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