This 3rd installment of the 20-year-old Toy Story franchise is simply the most touching Pixar film to date. It combines the sense of wonder and nostalgia of the previous installments with a fresh plot—a perfect evolution to the story and characters that we already know—and top-notch animation that is equally enjoyable in its 2D or 3D presentation.
In this new adventure, the story is as much about Andy, the toys’ owner, and the inevitability of change, as it is about the toys. A now grown up Andy is soon leaving for college, so he needs to decide what to do with his toys--store them in the attic or donate them to a daycare. But as Woody and the gang contemplate the changes that will result from Andy’s decision, a mix-up sends them to Sunnyside Daycare, where things seem more than just too good to be true: they are downright idyllic when compared to the possibility of spending eternity in Andy’s attic. Soon, however, they discover that things are not quite as good as they seem.
With most of the characters from the previous movies present (don’t worry, none of the important ones are missing), and many new characters, all of them entertaining and some of them somewhat sinister and deliciously twisted, Pixar creates a non-stop adventure that has impeccable pacing—not a single scene or line of dialogue is wasted in this movie—and is thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end for both kids and adults. It’s also filled with the brilliant visual gags, one-liners, and zingers that we’ve come to expect from Pixar, and especially from the Toy Story movies. Even the animators have obviously made an extra effort to pay attention to detail and give the toys the most communicative and humanlike expressions and characterizations, the most imaginative settings, and the most realistic textures of any animated movie to date.
And as with any Pixar movie, it is the human qualities given to the toys—their friendship, their sense of loyalty towards Andy, and the fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously—what make this movie truly shine. And the fact that Pixar manages to give a satisfying, although in some cases emotional and bittersweet, conclusion to every single character’s story is testament to the true genius behind this film.
If this movie is truly the last of the Toy Story franchise, it couldn’t be a more fitting farewell: a truly enjoyable, wholesome adventure with a strong message about family, friendship, and change.
Oh, and be sure to stick around for the credits.
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
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