I still remember seeing the teaser for 'Toy Story 3' and thinking to myself something along the lines of surprise. At that point, we were in 2009, watching the trailer ten years after 'Toy Story 2'. It made me wonder what it was gonna be about, and of course, the eventual trailer would answer that. I was immediately fascinated because it looked like it was going to be a pretty deep movie, telling us whatever would happen to Andy's Toys.
Andy (John Morris - and huge kudos to him reprising his role) is 17 now, and getting ready to go away to college. All of our favourite toys make one last effort towards playtime with Andy. Of course, it falls through, and soon every toy but Woody (Tom Hanks), who Andy decides to take with him, is put into a garbage bag, headed up to the attic. Mistaking the trash bag as actual garbage, Andy's Mom (Laurie Metcalf) takes them out to the curb, giving Buzz (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Slinky (Blake Clark, replacing the late Jim Varney), the Potato Heads (Don Rickles/Estelle Harris), the Pizza Planet Aliens (Jeff Pidgeon), and Barbie (Jodi Benson) the impression Andy thinks they're trash now.
The toys escape, and Jessie suggests they climb into the donations box Andy's Mom is about to take over to Sunnyside Daycare. Woody, having seen everything and knowing they were destined for the attic tries to convince them not to go, and accidentally ends up in the box with them. The toys are donated, and find themselves amid what could be a paradise, however Woody remains loyal to Andy and tries to go his separate way, eventually meeting Bonnie (Emily Hahn) who finds him and takes him to her house to play with a whole new group of toys. Meanwhile the other toys are shown around the Daycare by Lotso-Huggin Bear (Ned Beatty), and are shown the Caterpillar Room where they'll be staying.
Soon, the toys figure out just how much of a nightmare playtime can be when the room is flooded with toddlers, and just to cut down on more exposition, things eventually kinda-sorta turn into our third "escape and get back home" movie - but this one is so much more fun in my opinion. As for Woody, despite the idea that he could have a new home with Bonnie, he chooses to go back and help his friends and get back to Andy. The whole movie ends up being a fun parody of 'The Great Escape' (or at least that's how I take it), and parts of it have certainly grown up with the audience. My ages upon the release of each movie at this point were, respectively, 13, 17 and now, approaching 28; so I was certainly in the older area of the audience, but it's interesting how these films become a bit more reflective for me than watching them in more of a real-time situation, growing up with Andy.
Still, this was a film that once again hit me right in the feels, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the combination of moods it had going through it. It's got dark fun, it's got cute fun, it's got joy, it's got sadness, it often has a sense of dread, adventure and dammit, it's got a Spanish-speaking Buzz Lightyear. Maybe it's just me, but dammit, Spanish Buzz Lightyear cracks me up. Anyway, of the three films, it was easy for me to see this one as the tip-top of the pile. The first two were always more on the fun level, but this had a certain "grown-up" style to it I couldn't help but appreciate, and at this point, Pixar was very high on a pedestal for yours truly. Their track record was just amazing at this point, and 'Toy Story 3' would be their sixth Best Animated Picture Oscar winner, and second nominated for the Best Picture category.
I tote the Oscar history of these films more to keep track of the stereotype that says "Pixar will win the Oscar indefinitely". Up to this point, a fairly accurate assumption considering their track record since the Best Animated Picture category came into play. They have only lost the Oscar twice, first 'Monsters, Inc.' to 'Shrek' (which was the first year of the category, 2002), then 'Cars' to 'Happy Feet'. Otherwise, Pixar seemed untouchable, and with good reason. Watching Pixar meant watching a quality story that had humour, adventure, and above all else, a deeper meaning. They could be a kid's movie that any adult could still get a lot out of, but more than just something cute and fun... but then again... we have what Pixar cranked out next.
But just to dwell on the wonderful movie that is 'Toy Story 3' a bit longer, and more on my personal take, it was fascinating to watch this now, with the knowledge of 'Toy Story 4'. At this point, I was convinced they were done with the way things end here, and I still think that it makes a very well-rounded, almost perfect trilogy. I really did love 'Toy Story 4', but in a way, its existence makes the ending of this a touch less impactful than it once was. They go out on a high note here, and I'm fairly convinced that when I saw this in theaters, there wasn't a dry eye in the audience. Regardless, I still hold this film close to my heart, and yet again, it makes for one of my all-time Pixar favourites - a category that now feels redundant but true.
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