• Post category:Movies
  • Post last modified:December 14, 2020

Toy Story 3: Beyond Andy


toystory3It may seem strange to see the name Lee Unkrich attached to this Pixar extravaganza as director. This is his directing debut, but he’s actually no newcomer, having been part of the Pixar crew for many years and worked on several films, primarily as editor. Toy Story 3 was his chance to take responsibility for a huge project, a daunting challenge to follow in the footsteps of John Lasseter who directed the previous two films. He had reason to start biting his fingernails because the Toy Story franchise has become the best loved symbol of the whole studio.

Still, Unkrich had not only Lasseter to rely on, but many others of Pixar’s most brilliant talents, including Finding Nemo director Andrew Stanton. What a treat it is to watch these filmmakers find the best possible way to end this franchise.

Time for college
A decade has passed since the last time we saw Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the other toys. Their owner Andy is headed for college and his mother tells him to start gathering his old toys in a box and donate them to a day care. Since Andy has a special relationship with Woody, the first toy he ever really loved, he intends to bring the cowboy to college. The other toys are packed in a box – which is accidentally thrown away. When Woody decides to follow his friends to make sure they’re all right, they end up at the Sunnyside Daycare. The toys are welcomed by a bunch of day-care veterans, including a friendly magenta teddy bear called Lotso and the dashing Ken whom Barbie immediately falls for.

Woody, however, has no intention of staying; after all, he belongs with Andy. His friends are sad to see him go, but his decision is final. However, on his quest to find Andy, Woody hears the terrifying truth about what really goes on at the day care…

A heart turned black
Just like the previous year’s Up, this film was released in 3D. It is also the first movie to be released theatrically with a 7.1 surround sound. Toy Story 3 pushes the envelope technically. A pink teddy bear can actually be seen in Toy Story (1995), but the limits of technology prevented this early Lotso from becoming a major character in the original. In this version, his fur looks perfect. It is probably not too much of a spoiler to tell you that he’s the villain; slightly reminiscent of the bad guy in Toy Story 2, Lotso also has a heart that has turned black. Ned Beatty’s grandfatherly voice gives the character some depth; other effective contributions are passionately offered by Michael Keaton as Ken (sporting a new outfit every time we see him)… and the whole darned cast, to be honest, including once again Tom Hanks as Woody and Tim Allen as Buzz who even turns Spanish in one hilarious sequence.

More or less following real time in the story of Andy and his relationship with Woody is ingenious of the filmmakers, even respectful. They understand that this is the right moment for a third film, a crucial period in Andy’s life when he’s on the verge of adulthood. The final sequence will make you shed tears, possibly while remembering that last summer at home – and thinking about your parents and the friends who shared your childhood.

Viewing this film in a detached, critical state of mind is nearly impossible; non-fans will complain about the structure, which is exactly the same as in Toy Story 2. It doesn’t matter, though; the opening fantasy sequence is fun, the movie well paced and we’re also offered several action scenes that really put our heroes through hell and fire. Also, one final nod to Randy Newman who’s scored all three films, delivering heartfelt songs and music that beautifully illustrate the emotional turmoil of these 15 years.

Toy Story 3 2010-U.S. Animated. 103 min. Color. Produced by Darla K. Anderson. Directed by Lee Unkrich. Screenplay: Michael Arndt. Story: John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Andrew Stanton. Music, Songs: Randy Newman (“We Belong Together”). Voices of Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton… Laurie Metcalf, Timothy Dalton, Bonnie Hunt, Whoopi Goldberg, R. Lee Ermey.

Trivia: Followed by Toy Story 4 (2019). 

Oscars: Best Animated Feature, Original Song. BAFTA: Best Animated Feature Film. Golden Globe: Best Animated Film.

Last word: “When we were making ‘Toy Story’, my grandmother was very ill, and she knew she was not going to make it. I went back to visit her, and there was a moment during that visit that I had to say goodbye, and I knew I’d never be seeing her again. I looked at her and knew that I was looking at her for the last time. Taking that in before I turned away and left. Of course, that’s something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. That’s very much reflected in [‘Toy Story 3’]. There’s a scene, without giving too many details, toward the end of the film where a character’s having to say goodbye and move on into life. I very much used that experience that I had for the touchstone for that moment.” (Unkrich, Film School Rejects)



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