Director: Lee Unkrich
Starring the Voices of: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
Where to start? I was six years old when the original Toy Story was released, way back in 1995. Needless to say, I was absolutely captivated like most other people in the world, young and old alike. It was superbly animated, well-acted and revolutionary for the film industry in terms of what was possible to achieve on film. The concept of an entire CG film was mind-blowing, but Toy Story had the characters, charm and humour to pull it off brilliantly. Now, in 2010, following an excellent 1999 sequel that successfully matched the first, everyone’s favourite toys are back for a side-splitting yet contemplative adventure that is simply outstanding.
Woody, Buzz and the gang are forced to face the harsh reality of their owner Andy growing up. He’s about to head off to college, and the toys face an unknown fate. Will they be thrown out because they are no longer needed, or will Andy realise how much these toys mean to him and keep them safe? It’s a noticeably darker story for the franchise but is all the better for it. It allows for some emotionally satisfying moments and genuinely great commentary on acceptance and letting go.
The animation in Toy Story 3 is absolutely perfect. Shrek Forever After (see review here) was also powered by brilliant animation, but Toy Story 3 really sets the bar. Every single minute detail is superbly realised. Everything looks as it should; fluff, rain, plastic. They’re all represented with eerie realism that completely draws you into the film. The characters themselves are utterly fantastic. Joining the remnants of the original toys is a multitude of brilliant characters from the Sunnyside Day-care centre. Standouts include; Lotso, the de facto leader of the day-care toys, Ken, the famous male counterpart to Barbie, and Chuckles, a once happy clown now feeling seriously depressed.
The voice acting is fantastic, with Hanks and Allen once again completely on form. Michael Keaton also turns in a great performance as Ken, providing some very funny scenes with Barbie. The old cast all return, with the exception of the late Jim Varney who voiced Slinky in the first two films. He is replaced by his close friend Blake Clark, who makes the change barely noticeable. The supporting Sunnyside characters and Bonnie’s toys are all performed very well, with actors such as Timothy Dalton and Bonnie Hunt portraying them. Classic characters like Rex, Hamm, Jessie and the Potato Heads are all as excellent as ever.
Toy Story 3 is not only a perfect end to a perfect trilogy, it’s also one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen in quite some time. The sentimental value of Toy Story hasn’t diminished one bit and it’s great to see such a satisfying second sequel. Having grown up with Toy Story, seeing this instalment at 21 years of age was a fulfilling experience, giving a great sense of completion to a beloved film series. Adults will adore it. Children will adore it. Everyone should adore it. And after all, it’s Toy Story! Did I even need to tell you how good it is?