Review: Toy Story 3

Film review
Directed by Lee Unkrich
Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger

Andy is now 17 and about to set out for college, prompting his mum to drop off his old toys at Sunnydale day-care centre. Though sad to leave Andy, most of the toys are looking forward to a wonderland where they’ll be played with all day long. Instead they find toy-hell on earth…

It’s been 15 years since Pixar kick-started the whole CG animation revolution with Toy Story. Since then many other studios have got in on the act, some with great success (DreamWorks’ Shrek), others with spirit-crushing failure (Fathom Studios’ Delgo). But Pixar has continued to lead the charge, pushing animation into uncharted territory with every new release.

Toy Story 3 is a return to their more traditional roots after the sublime WALL·E and Up; but that doesn’t mean Pixar are happy to play it safe and simply replicate their previous glories. This is 103 minutes of CG’d perfection that, in terms of pacing, plotting and characterisation, blows most adult-orientated releases out of the water.

Once again, the premise is brilliantly simple yet intricately planned out. Buzz, Mr Potato Head, Rex and co arrive at Sunnydale with high hopes, despite harbouring understandable abandonment issues. Meanwhile, faithful pull-string cowboy Woody tries to find his way back to Andy – but instead finds himself in the hands of an excitable girl and a toy acting troupe. The existing Sunnydale residents, led by the charming Care Bears-like Lots-O’Huggin’, seem welcoming. But then an army of tots arrive, bashing the toys about, dunking them into paint, covering them in drool… Seriously, this comes across like a toy take on Salo at times. And the inferno imagery only increases before the closing credits…

Don’t worry: despite the shades of darkness, Toy Story 3 is above all very, very, funny. Whether it’s a daring sandpit escape by Mr Potato Head (a sublime sequence, reminiscent of a Picasso painting) or Buzz being flipped to “Spanish” mode, this is one of 2010’s most chortle-inducing flicks, helped by the irresistible array of characters, both familiar and new (welcome Timothy Dalton’s theatrical hedgehog Mr Pricklepants and Michael Keaton’s relentlessly narcissistic Ken).

As with all Pixar pictures, the animation is painstakingly intricate, making Sunnydale feel as real as Sid’s playroom or Al’s Toy Barn Store, while you’ll also find the requisite number of moments capable of reducing the most unflappable of adults into choked-up weep machines. Whether this really is the final outing for the wood-and-plastic playthings remains to be seen, but this joyful movie would certainly be a highpoint to go out on. Matt McAllister

VERDICT: 10/10
A fast-paced volley of gags, action, tears and cheers. Obligatorily viewing, whether you’re eight or 80.


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