What was surprising about the third installment of the Toy Story franchise was the way it really had grown with its audience. It kept the playfulness children love, but added a very complex story about growing up and letting go adults crave.
In this story, Andy (John Morris) is all grown up and is ready to leave for college, thus leaving the fate of his loyal toys in flux. When they are mistakenly put out with the trash, the toys, led by Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) decide they'd rather face their fate at Sunnyside Day Care against the advice of Woody (Tom Hanks).
Once they arrive at Sunnyside, they met Lotso (Ned Beatty) and soon it's revealed Lotso calls the shots around the joint, which leaves the toys yearning to return to whatever fate awaits them at Andy's house.
In the end, Woody, Buzz, Jessie (Joan Cusack) and the rest of the toys finally achieve what they've been longing for -- to be wanted.
This was by far the most complex of the three movies and just might be the best of the bunch. While it's mostly kid friendly, there are a couple scenes where the intensity is cranked up and leaves even the most theater-hardened adults gripping their armrest.
If the movie wasn't draw enough, the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack is filled with extra goodies that will satisfy any movie fan.
In addition to the short "Day and Night," there are featurettes "A Toy's Eye View", "Studio Stories" and "Paths to Pixar". You get the "Cars 2" Teaser Trailer and "The Gang's All Here, Toys!" Epilogue.
The Blu-ray features "Beyond the Toybox" commentary, "The Accidental Toymakers of Pixar" and my favorite feature "Bonnie's Playtime -- A Story Roundtable."
After making us wait for 11 years for this superb third installment, hopefully the creators that be at Pixar will deliver us our friends much sooner. Even as an adult, you can't help but love a visit from Woody, Buzz and the gang.
Final Cut: It's telling that one of the films that had the most heart this year was an animated film. "Toy Story 3" is a brilliant outing from Lee Unkrich and crew. A must see and a must own.
5 out of 5 Stars
Toy Story 3
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Don Rickles
Director: Lee Unkrich
Writer: Michael Arndt (Screenplay), John Lasseter (Story), Andrew Stanton (Story), Lee Unkrich (Story), Jason Katz (Story Supervisor)
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.
Available now on Disney Blu-ray and DVD