#28: TOY STORY 3
Woody: Tom Hanks
Buzz Lightyear: Tim Allen
Jesse: Joan Cusack
Ned Beatty: Lotso
Don Rickles: Mr. Potato Head
Michael Keaton: Ken
John Ratzenberger: Hamm
Wallace Shawn: Rex
Estelle Harris: Mrs. Potato Head
Screenplay by: Michael Arndt (from a story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich
Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Nostalgia has always fueled the TOY STORY series. The films remind us of those carefree days of imagination and play. They also understand the bond a child has with their toys and the trauma associated with losing one. TOY STORY 3 beautifully brings these themes full circle as we watch Andy growing into a young man headed to college. He realizes he must part with certain things, but he's not quite ready to give up Woody, Buzz, and the gang. In a mishap, all his toys are sent to a daycare. At this point, TOY STORY 3 launches into a light parody of escape films and seamlessly blends melancholy with brilliant comedy (and even some moments of terror).
The story is, as always, anchored by the relationship between Woody and Buzz and their leadership of the other toys. They're all on new turf now because the daycare is run by a lovable old teddy bear named Lotso (voiced by the great Ned Beatty). Lotso preaches a gospel of inclusion and family, but underneath it all runs a very tight ship. Woody and the gang realize they must escape the day care and get back to Andy before he leaves for college. While all this is going on, a sweet little girl named Bonnie (the daughter of the day care owner), takes a liking to Woody and the others, adopting them as their own. The whole thing builds to a genuinely thrilling climax in a salvage yard, which is a not-obvious-at-all metaphor.
TOY STORY 3 is funny, sweet, touching, and even frightening at times. The Big Baby doll character has a moment that is as creepy as anything I've seen, especially in a family movie. Sure, it's played for laughs, but 6-year old me would have not slept afterward. What works best, though, is the movie's final scene. Andy discovers where his toys are and comes to the daycare to collect them. He sees Bonnie playing with them and realizes they need a new home. Bonnie is grateful, but reaches out for Woody, who is still clutched in Andy's arms. Andy pulls back and now he must decide if he can truly let go. What would you do? I won't spoil Andy's choice for those who haven't seen this movie, but I will say it leads to a final montage that is poignant and moving and had me and my family blubbering in the theater.