From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Friday, June 18, 2010

Toy Story 3 - B+

Rated G, 103 minutes

A colorful, funny playtime with Pixar's "Toy Story 3"

It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years since the first "Toy Story." That film helped put Pixar on the map with animation movies, and the rest has been history. Lots of things have changed since 1995, but one thing is for sure, Pixar can still make great animated films with a rich palette, warm storytelling and some fun moments. It's also great seeing Woody, Buzz and the gang back for another adventure and while the thin story treads familiar ground, there still some fun moments to be had with an poignant, unforgettable ending.

Andy Davis is now 18, fresh out of high school and soon to be off to college. His childhood toys Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) along with Jessie (Joan Cusack), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn), the Potato Heads (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris) and the whole gang clamor for his attention, afraid he'll forget them forever when he goes off to school. Due to a mix-up, the toys end up in Sunnyside, a daycare that gets a lot of use out of used toys. All of them think it's a great place where they'll be wanted, led by a big, friendly purple bear named Lotso (Ned Beatty) but Woody constantly reminds them that they're Andy's toys. They soon realize the truth about Lotso and Sunnyside and decide to make their way back to see Andy before he heads off to college.

"Toy Story 3" is a florid, enjoyably fun animated vehicle that doesn't disappoint though it's not the best of the three films. Pixar, now making their films largely away from the Disney studio, have remodeled the characters for some fresh laughs but a thin, familiar story and too many characters seem to detract from the Woody-Buzz chemistry that made the first two films so memorable.

Back in the 1990's when the first two films were released, both Hanks and Allen were nothing short of superstars, something that's definitely not the case today. For that reason, the writers and producers of "Toy Story 3" have added a considerable amount of characters, including Barbie (Jodi Benson), Ken (Michael Keaton) and Lotso (Beatty) and while they all have some good moments, they fill "Toy Story 3" with too many predictable laughs and a distracting busyness.

The middle section sags but it picks up for an energetic climax and a very emotional ending that will have you reaching for the tissues. All the actors do solid work, and it's nice hearing both Hanks and Allen again. Rickles, Ratzenberger and Shawn are all a hoot as usual and steal most of the film's best laughs, such as when Mr. Potato Head uses a tortilla as a disguise.

Even with it's flaws, "Toy Story 3" is still far better and more clever than most animated films these days. It's entertaining, often hilarious (one bit with Buzz in Spanish is particularly funny) with great appeal to the masses. It comes with the usual Pixar short that precedes the main film, this time a clever, symbolic one called "Day and Night." Also, don't forget to stay over to watch the credits for more fun moments.