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TOY STORY 3 (2010) ****

Toy Story 3 is a great Disney movie.  Like all great Disney movies, Toy Story 3 has moments of incredible darkness.  Sometimes it’s downright depressing.  I can’t think of anything darker and more depressing than having your main characters staring directly into the depths of Hell while waiting to be engulfed in the flames therein.  Well, it happens in Toy Story 3.  (Well, it’s not literally Hell, it’s a garbage incinerator, but it looks more Hellish than anything Clive Barker could come up with.) 

 

Sure, there are plenty of laughs in this thing but there are also lots of moments of genuine drama.  And you can’t have genuine drama without high stakes, and the stakes in this movie are pretty high.  I know that sounds kinda stupid regarding a movie about talking toys, but it’s the truth. 

 

You see, Andy is going to college and has to make a decision about his toys Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and the rest of the gang.  He wants to put them in the attic, but they mistakenly get donated to a daycare ran by a tyrannical teddy bear (Ned Beatty).  During the day, the toys are mercilessly battered by uncaring toddlers and by night, the bear and his minions (including a Ken doll, voiced by Michael Keaton) keep them in line; imprisoning them and dehumanizing (de-toyizing?) them.  In the end, Woody devises an escape plan and all of them wind up at the dump where they have to fight for their lives.

 

I haven’t even touched on why the movie works like it does.  It’s about what happens to toys when their owners grow up.  What it’s like to feel unwanted.  What it’s like to be thrown away.  What it’s like to find a reason to live.  It’s really probably one of the most existential movies ever made. 

 

But the movie is so much more than that.  It’s also about friendship.  Hope.  Joy.  Love.  Loyalty.  And finding your inner Latin Lover.  It also turns into a damn fine Prison Escape Movie too.  It’s sad.  But it’s also funny.  It’s touching.  But it doesn’t pander to the audience or manipulate them either.  It’s far better than either of its predecessors and one of the best Disney movies in decades.

 

It’s a kids movie to be sure, but it’s a kids movie that’s not aimed squarely at them.  They’ll love it.  They’ll love the visuals and a lot of the characters.  Will the themes of the movie go over the kids’ heads?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But this will definitely be one movie they’ll cherish either as an adult or a child.

 

The cast is great.  Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and the other holdovers from the first two movies add a little depth to their characters.  I think I might’ve had more fun with the new additions though.  Ned Beatty has never been more evil as the villain.  His snarly turn gives Woody, Buzz, and the gang a worthy adversary.  What’s even more amazing is that he has a touch of pathos to him.  There’s a lengthy flashback showing why he hates toys that’s pretty moving.  I also had a blast hearing Michael Keaton’s familiar voice for Ken.  Both he and Barbie (played by Sherri Stoner from The Little Mermaid) probably deserve their own spin-off.  And as an added bonus, you’ve got Timothy Dalton playing Mr. Pricklepants, an old porcupine toy with Shakespearean aspirations.  When’s the last time you had Batman AND James Bond in a movie folks?  That right there should be enough for you to check it out ASAP.

 

Toy Story 3 is now on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 2010 at the Number 6 spot which places it in between The Expendables and The Human Centipede (First Sequence).

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