Tom Hanks Project – “Toy Story 3” Review

23 Feb

Toy-Story-3-Poster2Movie sequels are so often misses*. It feels like common knowledge now that franchised movies are usually just money-making machines for their parent companies, created to cash in on familiar characters and some nostalgia. When Toy Story 3 originally came out, I went in skeptically. I hadn’t enjoyed the new character of Jessie (or, looking back at my recent review, Toy Story 2 in general all that much), and it just seemed like a tired, play-out Homeward Bound** situation that I was kinda bored of. However — and I’m about to lay a fact on y’all right here — Toy Story 3 is the best picture in the trilogy. The. Best. Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t work without the original, and honestly I’d say it even benefitted from some additional bonding time in number 2***. But Toy Story 3 grows up with all of us who were children when the original came out. It deals with heavy topics, like mortality and relationships and self-worth, and it even allows its human characters some real, true-blue emotion. It’s absolutely amazing, so let’s get into the plot so y’all can run off and see this thing stat.

*We gave Toy Story 2 a 5.25/10 ranking.

**You know they made a Homeward Bound 2? Should we watch that? They called it “Lost in San Francisco” – essentially the same format as Home Alone 2. Still… could be good? OK, you’re right to be bored of them.

***Maybe the only good part about TS2.

Look_at_toysThe movie opens on Andy as a young boy, but we quickly jump forward about a decade. Andy is going off to college, and as he packs and prepares, he’s tasked with figuring out what to do with old belongings — including his toys. Not everyone has survived through the years (we learn right away that Woody’s love interest, Bo Peep, no longer resides in the House of Andy), but we’ve got Buzz and Woody, the Potato Heads, the Piggy Bank, Stretch, Rex, the aliens (really? The aliens from the claw machine? My claw machine toys were the first to go), Bullseye and, unfortunately, Jessie. Andy decides to take Woody to college (solidifying him as the most adorable young man* of all time), and we see him stuff everybody else into a trash bag — but, as Woody witnesses, it’s only to take them to the attic for storage. However, there’s a mix-up and Andy’s mom takes the trash bag out of the house to be picked up. The toys escape, and decide that they are unwanted and therefore donating themselves to a daycare center. Woody tries to persuade them not to do it, but off they go, and we have a plot.

*Caitlin truly feels this way. I wish you could have seen her reaction when we watched the special feature that showed how they found the original voice of Andy and had him come back for the third movie. She was close to tears.

TOY STORY 3 (L-R) Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear, Buzz Lightyear, Woody   ©Disney/Pixar.  All Rights Reserved.

When the toys arrive at the daycare center, they are initially taken to a room with children who are probably 5 or 6 years old, nicely playing with lots of toys. Andy’s toys haven’t been played with in ages, so the scene looks good. Woody says a tearful goodbye, realizing he can’t convince his friends to go back to Andy with him, and makes his way back* on his own since he knows Andy needs him and he’s loyal and whatnot. The toys soon learn that the daycare is run by the evil Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear, who has rigged the system and makes Andy’s toys stay in a room with super young children who put them in their mouths, bang them against walls, and generally terrorize them.

*These movies rely on the toys getting from one place to the next as their main narrative device a lot, but it does work for them most of the time, so why not.

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As Woody tries to make his way home, he makes a pit stop at the home of Bonnie*, a lovely young girl with a room full of very theatrical and fun new toys for us to meet. This is also where we meet Chuckles, who used to be a friend of Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear and tells Woody how he’s evil. Woody then sets off to save his friends.

*This girl rules. Those are some lucky toys.

***SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SERIOUSLY GO WATCH THE FILM BEFORE YOU GET SPOILED***

toy-story-incinerator-1024x576To make a long escape story short, the toys end up getting caught trying to escape the daycare and thrown into the garbage, and subsequently taken to the dump site. The still you see above is the toys slowly slipping towards a pit of fire where they will all melt. Yep. The toys are on a path towards DEATH. And in one of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching scenes in any movie of any time, when they slowly start to realize it’s over, they just hold hands, as if to say, it’s OK, we’ve had a good run, and we’re together. I cannot tell you the feels that this gives me*. I was sobbing — not just “crying,” but SOBBING — and the movie ain’t over yet! Those damn little alien guys** save the day, and help the toys escape, and then there’s even more feels when they all get back home but Woody sends them to Bonnie’s and oh my god I just can’t right now, you guys, just go watch the film and see/cry for yourselves. It’s beautiful and magical and I’m starting to tear up just thinking about it.

*It’s a truly special scene made all the more powerful by building these characters up over three movies. They have so much humanity and heart in what they fear are their final moments.

**I actually like those alien dudes who say “oooooo.” 

Laugh out Loud: Zack: 35 Caitlin: 70 So much tickled me about this film. There are subtle gestures the toys make, and goofy interactions they have (like Buzz and his Spanish dancing) that just were cracking me up. Thank goodness, because the film drained enough tears out of me that without the laughs to balance I think I’d have crumpled into a ball on the floor. I laughed a decent amount. I enjoyed Ken and Spanish Buzz and all the old favorites. 

Comedy: Zack: 8.0  Caitlin: 8.5 Unlike the last film, I found this movie funny and delightful. It’s not trying to be a straight comedy, so I almost rated it even higher, but it’s more sweet and heartwarming than gut-busting funny so I feel like 8.5 is a fair rating here. If we had an award for “most comedic,” it’d probably go to Chuckles (even though he’s supposed to be a tragic clown figure). Oh yeah, Chuckles was funny. I laughed less at this than either of the other Toy Story movies, but it puts a smile on my face consistently, so even if it wasn’t a ha-ha funny, I was definitely tickled by it.

Cry: Zack: 1 Caitlin: 3 SO MUCH TEAR. SO MANY CRY. Y’all. I cannot overstate. Get you a BOX of Kleenex and settle. in. You are about to face your childhood, your familial attachments, your adulthood, and your own mortality in one movie that’s a kid’s franchise. You are not ready. After not crying at either of the first two, we were destroyed by this one. I cried when Andy gives his toys away for good. He knows that Bonnie can give them the happy home he can’t give them anymore.

Eye cover: 0 for both You almost want to cover your eyes when our friends are hurtling towards certain doom. Thank god for those blasted aliens. Love those aliens. 

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Romantic interest:  Zack: N/A Caitlin: (8) I don’t know if I’m cheating by rating this, because Woody has zero romantic interests in this film and Hanks characters are the ones we’re supposed to be rating. However. This film features BARBIE AND KEN for chrissakes (the heterosexual love story of our times, you guys) as well as Jessie and Buzz, who I must admit I am far more on board with in this film. Their Spanish dancing helps. Barbie and Ken are a sweet love story, but we have to stick to Hanks romances here and Woody doesn’t even get a token Bo Peep in this one.

Hanks: Zack: 9.0 Caitlin: 9.0 I went back and looked at our rankings of his other performances, and I feel good about ranking this a 9.0. We have all grown to love Woody as much as Andy does, and I believe very, very strongly that if any other actor had attempted the part, it wouldn’t work. We feel connected to Woody through Hanks. He’s the children of ’90s America’s best friend. Hanks is excellent here, as always. I think we give him a little lower score since at this point he just has to do the same Woody bit and it takes care of itself, while in the original he had to find the character and anchor the movie. Still, great work.

Movie: Zack: 9.3  Caitlin: 9.8 I truly think this is one of the great films of all time. It is delicate, emotional, beautiful, and real in a shocking way, given the fact that it’s an animated movie about toys. I think that’s what makes it all the more special — you don’t expect its depth, so it is able to go even deeper. I want to watch this again and again and again. In the year I met Zack (2010), I learned that in life, being a great friend and enjoying the moment is all you can do. And what a beautiful thing that is. I’ll agree it’s the best Toy Story, and one of my favorite Pixars, but it’s not an all-time great movie for me. It packs a real emotional wallop and it’s as funny and clever and smart as the first. I think it’ll be the one Toy Story movie we go back to for repeated viewings when Caitlin wants a good cry. I had only seen it once before while babysitting and am glad it’ll be one we visit again and again. Like how I imagine Andy will, with his toys, when he’s home from college. 

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