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Movie Review: “Toy Story 3”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Toy Story 3

Theatrical Release: 6/18/2010

Theatrical Release: 6/18/2010

Synopsis

Andy is growing up and is getting ready to go to college. It has been a long time since Andy took his toys out of the toy box, but now, the toys’ fates are more uncertain than ever. What will happen to them when Andy leaves? Will his mother donate them, will they wind up in the attic, or could they even be thrown out? Times are uncertain, and while Woody (Tom Hanks) has faith that Andy will not throw them out and will make sure they are all taken care of one way or another, the rest of the toys are not so confident.

After some confusion between Andy and his mom, the toys wind up being donated, and are brought to Sunnyside Daycare. Initially, the daycare seems like a paradise for toys. The kids there play gently, and the toys already at the daycare have a pretty efficient operation going. The toys take care of each other, they are happy, and it seems like this is the perfect place for a toy. However, Andy’s toys soon discover that everything is not as it seems. Sunnyside Daycare quickly turns into a nightmare, with Woody being their only hope of escape.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Toys & The Daycare (+8pts)

Lotso (-4pts)

Woody & Buzz (+8pts)

Chuckles (-2pts)

The Climax & The Conclusion (+5pts)

Antagonists’s Feelings (-1pts)

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Pro: The Toys & The Daycare (+8pts)

Once again, Andy’s toys were one of the strengths of this movie. Putting Woody and Buzz (Tim Allen) aside for now, this movie had Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris, respectively), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Bullseye, and Barbie (Jodi Benson). This time, instead of being on an adventure to Andy’s house, Pizza Planet, or Al’s Toy Barn, the group of toys wound up in a prison break scenario at the twisted daycare. As always, it was fun seeing these characters and their unique perspectives of familiar things, and I enjoyed all the puns and jokes along the way, but I also enjoyed how they each used their unique skills to help the group escape.

I also just liked the daycare itself. The filmmakers did a good job of making it seem like a too-good-to-be-true paradise, and then they did a good job of flipping that all on its head, turning the dream into a nightmare. It really felt like the toys would not be able to get out, even though I knew it was a kids movie and that everything would turn out okay by the end. It was funny, suspenseful, and featured entertaining characters, which ended up being the recipe for a pretty entertaining movie.

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Con: Lotso (-4pts)

Lotso (Ned Beatty) was a Teddy bear who was basically the king of Sunnyside Daycare. Without giving anything away, I did not like what the filmmakers did with him. His actions gave the filmmakers the impression that they needed to explain his whole backstory in order to explain why he was the way he was. Unfortunately, I did not think this backstory worked for two primary reasons.

The first was that his story was not dissimilar from Woody or Jessie’s, which we had seen extensively over the last two movies. We have seen this story before, so the filmmakers could have just implied it, rather than give us a whole flashback sequence. However, the second—and far more important—reason was that I did not think his backstory explained why he was the way he was. It will make you feel bad for him to a degree, but it was not enough to explain the character’s actions in this movie. I honestly think that Lotso would have worked a lot better if the filmmakers did not try to explain his actions at all. He could have been a stronger character if he just was the way he was, with no explanation as to why, but the filmmakers sort of muddied the character by trying to explain his whole backstory.

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Pro: Woody & Buzz (+8pts)

Woody was very much the main character of this movie, and I liked what the filmmakers did with his story. Toy Story 2 touched on the idea of Andy growing up, but this was the movie when that really happened, and it hit Woody harder than anyone. While the other characters were quick to let go, Woody was determined that where they were was not where Andy wanted them to be, and he was desperate to get back. It really hammered home the level that toys care about their owners. Then Woody found out that the rest of the toys were in trouble, and he set out on his mission to save them.

Then there was Buzz, who was the obvious choice to lead the group of toys in Woody's absence, but I liked that the filmmakers took him out of the equation. I also liked how the filmmakers took him out of the equation, because they did it in a way that kept Buzz in the movie in an entertaining way, while also making everything so much harder for the rest of Andy's toys stuck in the daycare. Woody's story was all drama. He felt the weight of everything on his shoulders, both in terms of letting Andy down and letting the rest of the toys down, and it made for an interesting character story to watch. Then there was Buzz who the filmmakers used as an entertaining wrench that was thrown into the plan of the rest of group. The filmmakers did very different things with these two characters, but I thought they did a really good job with both of them.

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Con: Chuckles (-2pts)

This was one of those characters that just smelled like a plot device. For reasons you will need to watch the movie to find out, Woody wound up in a different spot than the rest of Andy's toys. It just so happened that in the spot that Woody wound up, there just so happened to be another toy that knew what was going on in Sunnyside Daycare, and who knew Lotso's whole backstory. The writers clearly wanted Woody to come to the rescue, but they had no idea how to get Woody to know that his friends were in danger. They had written themselves into a corner, and Chuckles just felt like a lazy way out of that corner.

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Pro: The Climax & The Conclusion (+5pts)

I will keep this brief, as I really do not want to spoil any of it, but the last chunk of this movie was just great. The climax was intense and emotionally dramatic. It was both satisfying and emotionally impactful. If you are the type of person that cries easily in movies, then the ending of this one will get you there. The filmmakers had the benefit of a great group of characters that the audience had grown to care about over the course of three movies in 15 years. They used this to their advantage and ended up delivering a great, suspenseful, dramatic, and satisfying ending for this movie.

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Con: Antagonists’s Feelings (-1pts)

I have no idea who started it. Maybe it was whoever wrote the story about the lion with the splinter in its paw. Who knows? What I do know is that these moments always make me roll my eyes or palm my forehead, and I am sure I am not alone.

The moments I am talking about are the ones where you have this mean, overwhelming antagonist, then the protagonists simply appeal to their heart, and after that, the antagonist has a massive change of heart that works in the protagonists’ favor. These moments would not be so annoying if they happened less frequently, but so many kids movies rely on this crutch, and it always bugs me. Fortunately, the filmmakers did not do it with the primary antagonist of this movie, and that primary antagonist still went on to have their climactic moment. As such, I did not think this was a big deal in this movie, but I still thought it was worth mentioning, especially considering I could not come up with a more significant third issue to mention in this review.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B+ (89pts)

With Andy officially grown up, this story was all about the uncertainty that Andy’s toys faced, but Woody was the one that felt this the most. His story was interesting as he tackled the idea of his life after Andy, but it quickly turned heroic when he realized that the rest of his friends were in trouble. The rest of Andy’s toys were stuck in a prison-break storyline, that was as entertaining as it was suspenseful. Woody’s storyline brought the heart and the drama, the other toys’ story brought the comedy and the suspense, then they all came together to make for a fun mix.

As is the case with any movie, Toy Story 3 was not perfect. I thought Lotso’s backstory was both typical and unnecessary, and I was not a fan of the way we learned about that story. The movie also had the typical and sappy moment where the protagonists appealed to an antagonist’s heart, and managed to turn the odds in their favor. However, these issue were all relatively minor, and it all led to a pretty great ending. The climax of the movie was intense, and climactic, and the conclusion was incredibly emotional and satisfying, and it served as a strong conclusion for both this movie and the franchise as a whole—up until this point. It was a pretty decent movie, but I thought the filmmakers absolutely nailed the ending.