When a studio delivers a third installment in a series, it’s often more focused on making money rather than making the movie, but the folks at Pixar honor their legacy and reveal respect for their audience with the outstanding “Toy Story 3,” which will not only be talked about as one of the best films of 2010, but as part of one of the best film trilogies ever created.
Toy Story 3 opens with a wonderfully imaginative and memorable sequence from the mind of Andy, and the equally imaginative creative team led by director Lee Unkrich, as heroes Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) battle against villains Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) and Hamm (Pixar good-luck charm John Ratzenberger). The story then flashes forward and Andy is heading off to college. His sister, Molly, is eager to get his room, so at the behest of his mother he has to decide what he’s taking, what goes in the attic, and what goes in the garbage.
The toys are understandably nervous at the prospects, especially when all but Woody are placed inside a garbage bag. Andy intends to place them in the attic, but when he leaves the bag on the floor, his mother makes an assumption and places the bag on the curb. The toys escape and make their way into a box headed for Sunnyside Daycare. Woody tries to explain the mix-up, but the toys prefer to go where they will be played with rather than hidden in the attic.
Once there, they are given a grand tour of the facilities by the toy in charge, the kindly, strawberry-scented Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear (Ned Beatty). Sunnyside Daycare appears to be a toy’s dream because new children replace the ones who outgrow the place, and the gang is happy with their decision. Woody implores them to return to Andy, but they choose playing with children over sitting in an attic in the hopes that one day a young man will remember they are up there.
Woody’s return to Andy is foiled when a young girl named Bonnie finds him. She takes Woody home where he meets her toys, including the ever-so-serious Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton) and the playful Peas-In-A-Pod. During a playtime break, Woody learns the dream his friends were presented is actually a nightmare, so he attempts to return and rescue them. This sets off a series of amazing sequences filled with action, humor, and suspense as the toys find themselves going from the frying pan almost literally into the fire. However, what is most engaging is the film’s conclusion, which exudes such unadulterated joy it will tug at your heartstrings, so keep something handy to wipe away the tears.
The reason Toy Story 3 works so well is because the creative team gets so many things right. The story is a natural progression of events in the characters’ lives as opposed to feeling like a forced reunion. Even though they are toys, the audience has grown to care very much about these characters over the series, in part, because the actors do such an excellent job bringing them to life. That also goes for the new characters introduced with the standout being clotheshorse Ken (Michael Keaton). Much of the humor, which is very clever and unexpected, comes out of the characters and the situations, particularly the transformations of Buzz and Mr. Potato Head. The emotions evoked are true as the story deals with love, family, and separation, and at no time feels manipulative.
Get to the film early because Toy Story 3 is preceded by Teddy Newton’s “Day & Night,” one of the more inventive Pixar shorts. The embodiments of Day and Night meet for the first time and bring each other new experiences that they delight in. For example, Night had never seen pretty girls sunning themselves on the beach, and Day had never seen fireworks. It’s remarkably clever when the creatures pass over objects, which immediately change in appearance, like a Vegas hotel.
While James Cameron created in Avatar an event film that needed to be seen in theaters due to its brilliant use of technology, Lee Unkrich has created in Toy Story 3 an event film that needs to be seen in theaters due its brilliant use of characters and story.
The abundant extras appear across both discs in HD, unless noted. They are:
- The Gang’s All Here (Disc 2, 11 min) – We get re-introduced to all the original voice characters. Feels pretty promotional, but it’s fun to see Tom Hanks and some of the new voices like Timothy Dalton, Bonnie Hunt, and Michael Keaton recording their voices in the sound studio.
- ‘Day & Night’ Theatrical Short (Disc 1, 6 min) – Like always, the short that ran before the movie in theaters is included on the disc. One of my favorite shorts to date, they just get better and better.
- Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science of Adventure (Disc 1, 5 min) – Buzz, Hamm, and Rex talk about how space travel has progressed. Similar to the features that are found on the other two Blu-rays for parts one and two.
- Toys! (Disc 1, 7 min) – A brief discussion from the animators talking about how hard it was to create so many new characters and toys for the new movie.
- Studio Stories: Where’s Gordon? (Disc 2, 2 min) – A little story about a hidden office created at Pixar’s new building by Andrew Gordon.
- Studio Stories: Cereal Bar (Disc 2, 1 min) – Pixar has a whole room devoted to cereal for their employees to enjoy. Another story that makes us all feel bad that we don’t work there.
- Studio Stories: Clean Start (Disc 2, 3 min) – A story about how everyone at Pixar shaved their hair, and how they finally got Lee Unkrich to shave his long flowing locks.
- Cine-Explore Picture-in-Picture Commentary (Disc 2) – Kind of a weird situation here. The PiP Cine-Explore feature is actually located on Disc 2. This is one of the many must see features on this disc. Here director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson discuss the movie in fantastic detail. Unkrich is always personable and he’s able, along with Anderson, to offer some interesting insight into the animation and the direction the story took. The Pixar charm shines throughout this feature as you can tell that these two really love what they’re doing. Who wouldn’t if you had their jobs?
- Beyond the Toybox: An Alternative Commentary Track (Disc 2, audio only) – The second disc also contains a commentary provided by production designer Bob Pauley, supervising animator Bobby Podesta, story supervisor Jason Katz, supervising animator Mike Venturini, and supervising technical director Guido Quaroni. This commentary isn’t nearly as lively as the PiP commentary with Unkrich and Anderson, but it does offer a whole host of more technical comments if that’s what you’re into. These guys talk extensively about how certain shots were created and all the different goodies you can find throughout the movie.
Family Play (Disc 2)
- Goodbye Andy (8 min) – Spoiler alert! Don’t watch this featurette if you haven’t watched the movie yet. It talks about how they were able to create better looking humans for this movie. Dreamworks, take note, this is how you animate human characters. It also talks about the decision Andy makes at the end with his toys.
- Accidental Toymakers (4 min) – This featurette talks about how none of the major toy companies wanted to make the toys from the movie and how the actual toys came to life.
- A Toy’s Eye View: Creating a Whole New Land (5 min) – Find out how they were able to incorporate the ‘Toy Story’ franchise into the Disney Parks. It talks about the creation of ‘Toy Story’ Midway Mania (which in my opinion is the best ride at California Adventure Park). They also discuss the creation of a ‘Toy Story’ land in Disneyland Paris.
- Epilogue (4 min) – You can watch the epilogue that is played during the end credits here without any of the annoying credits scrolling by.
Film Fans (Disc 2)
- Roundin’ up a Western Opening (6 min) – Lee Unkrich discusses the opening for the movie and how they created it. He talks about an alternate western showdown opening that’s presented in storyboard form.
- Bonnie’s Playtime: A Story Roundtable (6 min) – A roundtable of Pixar regulars talk about how Bonnie’s playtime was created and how many incarnations it went through.
- Beginnings: Setting a Story in Motion (8 min) – Michael Arndt, the screenwriter for ‘Toy Story 3’ talks about how hard it was to start out writing the movie. It’s a very interesting, yet simple how-to on creating a good screenplay.
- Life of a Shot (7 min) – Anderson discusses the intricacies that go into creating a detailed world with individual detailed objects. Colors, lighting, and effects are all talked about here, showing us just exactly how many people were involved in just one scene from the movie.
- Making of ‘Day & Night’ (2 min) – Director Teddy Newton and others describe how hard it was to create ‘Day & Night.’ According to them it was the hardest short to make because of the 2D characters that had a 3D world inside of them.
- Paths to Pixar: Editorial (4 min) – Editors talk about putting together the movie from a bunch of different pieces.
Games & Activities (Disc 2)
- ‘Toy Story’ Trivia Dash – This trivia game is powered by BD-Live. You can select to play with trivia from all three of the ‘Toy Story’ movies or just from ‘Toy Story 3.’ You play with two players and answer questions with the remote. It’s kind of an awkward game and the music that accompanies it gets annoying really fast.
Publicity (Disc 2)
- Grab Bag (4 min) – This is just a collection of promo clips that were produced for Toy Story 3 and its 3D aspects.
- Ken’s Dating Tips (1 min) – A great little clip with Ken giving hilarious dating tips.
- Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear Commercial (30 sec) – A VHS-quality commercial for the Lotso toy.
- Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear Commercial 2 [Japan] (30 sec) – Same kind of commercial but for Japan.
- Making of Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear Commercials (1 min) – This featurette shows the making of the intentionally VHS-quality commercials.
- Internet Chat (1 min) – An internet chat between Woody and Buzz making fun of each other.
- Security Cam (1 min) – A promo that makes Toy Story 3 look like a horror movie.
- Gadgets (1 min) – A promo for Toy Story 3 that juxtaposes the toys from the movie in against the backdrop of a futuristic car commercial.
- Dancing with the Stars at Pixar (2 min) – Dancing with the Stars came in and helped Pixar create the dance scenes in the movie.
- Trailers (13 min) – There are a ton of different trailers.
- Character Intros (2 min) – A promo that introduces the new characters that are in the movie.
- Poster Gallery – Check out a wide variety of posters that were created for the film.