Okay, I’ll say it: The toys are back in town.
The continuing adventures of Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Rex, Hamm and the Potato Heads move ahead with the release of Toy Story 3, the third installment in a series that began in 1995. Likewise, the voice talents of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack and John Ratzenberger bring the characters to life as the saga of the worlds most famous toy box comes of age.
In this episode, Andy is now 17 and has recently graduated high school. Woody and the other toys haven’t been played with in many years and with Andy headed to college in a few days, they are uncertain as to their fate. Will they be thrown away? Donated? Stored for eternity in the attic. Anxiety resonates through Andy’s toys and for those less played with than Woody, they are very worried indeed.
A series of mishaps and a daring escape lands the crew at Sunnyside Day Care, a paradise for toys where they are never outgrown and they will be played with seemingly forever. The toys leader is Lotso, (voiced by Ned Beatty) and Ken (Michael Keaton), Barbie’s male companion. Woody makes a solo break for it, as he believes that he is still Andy’s toy while the others have resigned themselves to the belief that Andy has moved on and the prospect of being played with forever is a much better fate.
As it turns out, Lotso and Ken are running Sunnyside like shot-callers do in a prison, and they have assigned Andy’s toys to a hellish existence in the "caterpillar room", where the toddlers spend their days. Parts of the Potato Heads are shoved up a toddlers nose, Rex’s tail gets amputated, and Jessie’s red yarn hair gets dipped in finger paint and flung at a wall. After a day of this, Buzz breaks out of the room in search of answers and is captured by Lotso’s henchmen, who reset him back to his original semi-psychotic space ranger M.O., and he assists Lotso in bringing the rest of the toys in line by locking them in basket-shelves that resemble prison cells.
The story is full of action, suspense and thrilling escapes by Woody and the other toys. It is handled with humor that will have the grownups laughing along with the kids as the jokes cross the age barrier many times. Particularly funny is when Andy’s toys turn on the reprogrammed Buzz and in an attempt to change him back, switch him into a Spanish language version of Buzz, complete with a finger-snapping flamenco dance.
At it’s heart though, Toy Story 3 is a Disney movie. It has it’s tear jerk moments. But, being a Disney movie, it does have a happy ending and while you would think that the trilogy was coming to an end there are a few open ends where yet another sequel could come about. In Hollywood, you just never know. In the end, it is a great family movie.