Toy Story 3 takes place in a world where toys are able to come alive and interact like humans. The story here follows the adventures of Andy’s toys, mostly the same bunch from Toy Story 1 and 2. Andy doesn’t really want to play with them anymore because he’s all grown up and prefers his laptop instead. A misunderstanding leads the toys to believe that Andy intends to throw them away, so they plan an escape. The entire story is extremely compelling, and you don’t have to watch part 1 or 2 to jump into this one.
The opening sequence is a western cum sci-fi battle that has several throwbacks to the previous Toy Story films. I love how the film makers use these references to string this third film nicely with the previous two installments without overdoing it. The opening scene also sets the tone of the film effectively and brilliantly introduces Andy’s toys one by one. It was fun to see these characters come back after such a long break (Toy Story 2 was in 1999), and in such an explosive manner.
Right after that, we get a short montage of a young Andy playing with his toys. Pixar films always have these flashback montages that show you what used to be, and they never fail to be heartwarming. Being a huge fan of the Toy Story films myself, I needed no persuasion to care about these characters. I’m sure new viewers will have an easy time jumping into this film as well because the first act shows you the personalities of the different toys. Not as comprehensive as in the first Toy Story, but good enough to get you interested.
Woody the cowboy is voiced by Tom Hanks and he’s the only one that believes Andy still loves them. I like how they reference Bo Beep from the first film, which shows that Woody has real feelings like any normal human. Buzz Lightyear is voiced by Tim Allen, and he’s the strong and mighty space ranger who is probably more charismatic than Woody too. Later on, he gets himself into some life threatening situations as he tries to defend his friends. On the other hand, he also provides some of the most hilarious comedy bits in the film, particular involving Jessie the cowgirl.
All the characters here are well drawn out, and they all have their own time to shine. You may even notice cameos from Totoro (from My Neighbor Totoro, the Ghibli film) or Emperor Zurg (from Toy Story 2). And if your eye is really sharp, you will even spot Sid. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Mr and Mrs Potato Head in Toy Story 3. The film makes use the functions of these toys to their full purpose, and with the case of Mr and Mrs Potato Head, their detachable body parts will provide utterly hysterical situations. Even Rex the dinosaur turns out to be useful despite being the most timid of the group.
My favourite new character is definitely Ken, voiced by Michael Keaton (Batman!). In this film, he meets Barbie for what I assume is the first time. The gag of their first encounter can already be seen in the trailer, but there are plenty of other Barbie and Ken moments in the film that had me laughing my face off.
Ned Beatty is the voice of Lotso, a big purple bear who smells of strawberries. There is an eerie flashback to how Lotso got abandoned by his owner, sort of like Jessie’s back story in Toy Story 2. Here, it’s much darker and really shows you what it’s like to be a toy. I love Pixar films because they are able to bring out the right emotions at the right moments, and they are not afraid to try out new and daring storytelling techniques.
The first two Toy Stories are among my favourite films of all time, and Toy Story 3 delivers what a sequel needs to deliver. It does not ride on the success of the previous films, but rather create a fresh and exciting experience for the audience. Toy Story 3 has action sequences that will keep you at the edge of your seat, comedy bits that will make you laugh out loud, and even a little something for chick-flick lovers. If you teared in Up, Toy Story 3 may turn your eyes into faucets. Disney+Pixar has yet again created another masterpiece, and I cannot recommend Toy Story 3 highly enough.