Saturday, June 26, 2010

Review Toy Story 3

Director: Lee Unkrich

Voices of: Tom Hanks, John Cusack, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Ned Betty, John Morris among others

Rating: ***

The Toy Story series has been a landmark in Hollywood’s animation history, and an unqualified achievement for Pixar/Disney. The good news is that, the latest addition and perhaps the final one, Toy Story 3, is a delightful and worthy follow-up to the last two films.

Andy (John Morris) is seventeen and all set to go to college. His mom insists that he clear his trunk of toys and either put it all in the attic or donate it. Andy looks at his play things affectionately one last time before he decides to dump them in the attic. He decides to take along his favourite toy, Woody (Tom Hanks) with him to college and puts the rest of them in a bag. In a mishap, the toys end up among the junk meant for donation. Woody desperately tries to explain to the others that Andy never meant to dispose them off, but it falls on deaf ears. ‘If he doesn’t want us, we should go away,’ they argue.

And their decision appears correct when they find themselves at a colourful and vibrant looking day care centre called Sunny side. But the toy gang’s joy is short-lived, as they get treated roughly by the kids who come to play there. Moreover, the place is controlled by a sinister bear, Lotso (Ned Betty). When the toys protest about their condition, he gets them locked in a place that serves as a prison. Woody returns and springs into action, as soon as he learns that his friends are in trouble. The rest of the film is a prison-break adventure, with numerous twists and turns.

Even though Toy Story 3 has all the action and thrills that will please children, the film is by no means frivolous. Its central theme gently touches upon the unexpected shifts in life, when one feels discarded and worthless. Scenes where the toys feel homeless and unwanted have been very well executed and your heart goes out to the them. The voices and animation effects compliment the characters admirably. The expression on Lotso’s face when he reveals his evil side is so effective, it makes you wonder if even real-life actors can match up.

The film is engaging for most part, but one’s interest flags in the middle. There is a cheesy love story thrown in, where Barbie and Rex get together. The more interesting sub-plot is one where Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) is captured and his configurations are reprogrammed so that he turns against his own toy-friends. Some of the scenes in the jail seem a bit long-drawn. Also, the theme about a bully using his henchmen to control the inhabitants is hardly a new one and is in fact an oft repeated plot in animation films. The dialogues are good, but not particularly witty. Yet, things remain watchable at the very least and post the prison-break, things start to get quite exciting.

There is a dark, lingering sadness to this story about abandonment, but hearteningly, the film settles on an enlightening note, where it points at the unending joys and sense of wonderment that toys bring with them. If the old toys get discarded, someone else will pick them up.

The film is in 3D, but my guess is that audiences will enjoy it as much in 2D. The 3D does not enhance one’s experience of watching Toy Story 3 at all. All the same, this is a very competently made film, with its heart in the right place.


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