Toy Story 3

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“Toy Story 3,” the third (and final?) chapter in the popular Disney-Pixar franchise that began over a decade ago, is a pleasant enough experience, though not groundbreaking in any way—despite the use of 3D technology.
World-premiering at the Taormina Film Fest in Sicily on June 11, “Toy Story 3” will be released in the U.S. on June 18.
 
 
John Lasseter, who directed the first two “Toy Story” films, is now exec-producer. Lee Unkrich, who co-directed “Toy Story 2” and “Finding Nemo,” helms a narrative, scripted by Oscar-winner Michael Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine”).
 
Nostalgic and old-fashioned in both the positive and negative sense of the word, "Toy Story 3" inevitably lacks the technical sophistication and thematic poignancy of such Pixar highlights as "Wall-E" and last year's "Up," two of the company's very best productions.
 
Some of the limitations are inherent in the material, which calls for continuity and has to draw on the previous chapters.   In this tale, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the rest of gang of toys get alarmed, when Andy prepares to go to college. What will happen to them? Abandoned and destroyed? Dumped in the garbage? Donated to a day care center?   The very notion of security and home are at the center of this saga.
 
When the saga begins, Andy, 18, packs all his toys (except for Woody) and puts them in a black garbage bag.  Our hearts sink.  Andy's mom, a good, neat housewife, thinks the bag is just routine garbage and thus places it outside.
 
Main section of the tale takes place in Sunnyside Daycare Center, where chaos rules.  The kids play, abuse, throw, and torture the toys, decidedly lacking the loving and sensitive care that Andy had accorded them.  During breaks, the toys get to move, socialize, and devise plans of what to do to avoid such poor treatment.
 
Part of the problem of this scenario is in its lack of clear idea–or perhaps refusal–to take a stance toward the treatment and mistreatment of toys. A case could be made that toys given to daycare center is not necessarily a bad cause.  But the film opts for the old-fashioned approach that toys are children's best friends and that it's better to pass them along from one generation of kids to another.
 
The filmmakers must have been aware of the narrative limitations for they often come up with compromised solutions.  On the one hand, they realize the value of modernist technology, the notion that toys, like other elements, get outdated very quickly these days and that kids in 2010 do not play with the kinds of toys that kids used to play in the 1990s–15 years is a lifetime in technological innovations (as the animation field itself has shown). On the other, there is no story if the film just accepts the fact that all children eventually outgrow their beloved toys.
 
It will be interesting to see whether or not there is cultural variability in the commercial reception to this movie, based on the meaning of toys in different countries.  When I was growing up (in Israel and France), my toys were limited and, living in  small apartments, there was no attic to keep the old toys.  I realize that the living conditions of most middle-class American children are vastly different.
 
Some new faces join the adventure, adding necessary color to the proceedings, including the iconic swinging bachelor and Barbie’s counterpart, Ken (Michael Keaton); a lederhosen-wearing thespian hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton); and, perhaps bets of all, a pink, strawberry-scented teddy bear called Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (Ned Beatty)
 
To make the case that the Sunnyside Daycare Center is bad for the toys, the writer turns the place into a dark, rigid space, which the dictatorial Lotso rules like a prison–literally.  A subplot, which describes in a flashback how Lotso had lost his owner (a lovely blonde girl), explains how and why he has become such an intolerant creature.
 
The last reel, weak in ideas and a bit tedious, depicts how Woody goes back to the Center and convinces the others to break out.  The individual breakouts and then joint effort at escaping the place, while avoiding another enemy (the ominous grabage truck) at minimal casualties, offer some funny moments. But the decision to go back to Andy's attic and wait until he may or may not need them again is dubious and not particularly compelling on any level.
 
Continuity is provided by John Morris, who has provided the voice of Andy since the first film, and now returns to voice the college-bound teen, whose decision will determine the ultimate fate of his toys.
 
Attempting to blend and balance fun and humor with a relatable story and positive values for all age groups, "Toy Story 3" attempts to deal (not always successfully) with life changes, or rather how to embrace traumatic but inevitable transitions in life?
 
Woody and the other toys are facing the monumental fact that Andy has outgrown them. For his part, Andy is facing becoming an adult and heading off to college. Andy’s mom is facing the fact that her son has grown up and is heading out into the world all alone.  These are facts of life that the film treats in a nostalgic, even sentimental way. 
 
In the course of the adventure, there are conflicts, differences of opinion, and separations. But rest assured: In the end, loyalty is the name of the game, manifest in the motto, All for one and one for all.
 
The Toy Story Trilogy
 
The original “Toy Story” made history in 1995, when it became the first full-length animated feature to be created entirely by artists using CG technology. It was a milestone, not just in animation technology, but also in storytelling and filmmaking.
 
Buzz, Woody and the toys won the hearts of viewers of all ages—evoking the kind of adoration and devotion typically reserved for Disney’s classic characters. The "Toy Story" films broadened the audience for animated films and redefined the rules of moviemaking, proving it’s possible to make a movie with truly widespread appeal In effect. In other words, "Toy Story" set the bar for every film—both animated and live-action—that followed.
 
With a running time of minutes of breathtaking animation, 1,561 shots, and a cast of 76 characters that included humans, toys and a dog, which were meticulously hand-designed, built and computer-animated, it became the highest-grossing film of 1995, with a domestic box office of nearly $192 million, and $362 million worldwide “Toy Story” was nominated for three Oscars, for Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Original Song, and John Lasseter received a Special Achievement Oscar for his “inspired leadership of the Pixar "Toy Story" team, resulting in the first feature-length computer-animated film. It became the first animated feature in motion picture history to ever get an Oscar nomination for its screenplay. The film was later included on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Greatest American Movies.
 
In 1999, “Toy Story 2” (Pixar’s third feature) became the first film to be entirely created, mastered and exhibited digitally. The film surpassed the original at the box office, becoming the first animated sequel to gross more than its inspiration. Winning critical acclaim, the movie was nominated for Best Original Song Oscar.