By Pam Swartz
When my sister and I were young girls we had a lot of Barbie dolls, along with the prerequisite accessories: the Barbie House, the Barbie Motor Home, the Barbie Corvette, the Barbie Hair Salon, as well as the Barbie Airplane. We had Malibu Barbie, Superstar Barbie, Growing Up Skipper (who “grew” a chest when her arm was rotated), and even a Ken doll that came complete with removable facial hair and sideburns. We loved our Barbies, fought over them and treasured them. Later on, when we were a bit older and bored, we would cut their hair and use markers on them because we thought they needed “makeup”. Sadly, a lot of them were unintentionally mutilated along the way. When the time was right, I piled them up in a suitcase, and left them in my parents’ basement which is where they remain today. After seeing Toy Story 3, I felt so guilty that I almost drove out to my parents to free Barbie and her friends! If your old toys could talk, what would they say about you?
When we last saw Andy (John Morris), he was a seven year old boy. Now he’s seventeen and getting ready to leave for college. He has to decide what to do with all of his old and beloved toys. In the years that have passed, Woody (Tom Hanks) , Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie the Cowgirl (Joan Cusack), Hamm the Piggybank (John Ratzenberger), Mr. & Mrs. Potatohead (Don Rickles & Estelle Harris) and the rest of the gang have been relegated to an old toy chest in his bedroom. They long so much for Andy to take them out and play with them, that they play a prank on him which merely gets him to open the toy box lid and look inside.
When Andy decides to take Woody along with him to college, the other toys are scared that they will be left in the attic forever, but Woody is convinced it won’t be so bad. When Andy packs the toys up in a garbage bag and gets ready to place them in the attic, a series of misfortunes ensue, and the bag of toys end up on the street awaiting the garbage men. At the last second, the toys are saved and taken to the Sunnyside Daycare Center as a donation.
At first the toys are scared, but they soon see all the children outside playing, and realize that this might be their second chance at life. Sunnyside appears to be a paradise for old toys. Every day children are there waiting to play with them, and when those children grow up and leave Sunnyside, new ones take their place. They meet the ruler of Sunnyside, a big, strawberry scented pink guy named Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (Ned Beatty). Lots’o is a lovable, grandfatherly-like teddy bear and welcomes them warmly…or so it seems. They also meet Ken (Michael Keaton), a vain Barbie doll who lives in a Barbie Dream House complete with a huge wardrobe.
Unfortunately, it seems even for toys you have to be careful what you wish for. All excited to be played with for the first time in years, they are horrified to see the daycare doors open to a room full of screaming two year olds that will clearly void the toys’ warranty a million times over. Sunnyside is not a paradise, it’s a prison!
It turns out that Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear is a malevolent dictator with a serious mean streak. The toys are subjected to being “jailed” and locked inside metal cubby holes at night, while toy cars patrol the halls of Sunnyside. A cymbal thrashing monkey watches everything in an office with a wall full of security televisions, and screeches his alarm at the first sign of unrest. A worn out, creepy baby doll plays the part of the armed muscle guard (one of my favourite characters, by the way).
On the 3D side, I found the effect in Toy Story 3 to be very subtle. At times during the movie, I glanced over my glasses, and noticed that the separation level was not very high at all. I wasn’t the only one, and it looks like Pixar did this on purpose. Here are some remarks sourced from the BBC:
“We tried to create a very graceful experience,” adds Bob Whitehill, Pixar’s stereoscopic (3D) supervisor.
“We didn’t want to overdo the 3D and risk distracting from these characters that people know and love, and this world that’s beautifully lit and interesting as it is.”
Where I did find the 3D interesting was during the short called “Day and Night” that was shown right before Toy Story 3. It was a cartoon with two round jovial characters, one representing day and the other representing night. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that the 3D was used well.
Pixar is unrivalled in their use of animation to tug at our heartstrings, and Toy Story 3 is another prime example. The previous two movies came out in 1995 and 1999, and while Andy is growing up, Toy Story’s scripting and characters haven’t grown thin. Toy Story 3 is touching, emotional and very funny. I really loved this movie, and I highly recommend going to see it!
MTBS Score 10/10