Okay, to begin with, 3-D sucks and sucks bad. We all know it, they're gonna keep forcing it on us until the fad has run its course again, and I won't devote any more time to it here. It's used as well here as it has ever been used, and it still added absolutely nothing to the experience of watching the movie, except for adding the annoyance of having to wear those damn glasses again. Thankfully, nothing about it ruins anything inside the gorgeously animated new masterpiece from Pixar, Toy Story 3. We get back to Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Rex, Potato Head and the whole gang yet again, and although I think the second entry in the series is among Pixar's weakest efforts, the third time is certainly a charm.
Andy is now 17-years-old and getting ready for college. His beloved toys lay in his toy chest, unplayed with for years. Misunderstandings ensue, and the toys are donated to the Sunnyside Daycare. There they meet a host of other toys lead by the fluffy, strawberry scented, Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear (voiced by Ned Beatty), and Ken (Michael Keaton), who immediately falls for the Barbie doll that Andy's sister had donated. They're told that Sunnyside is an ideal place for toys. They're played with all day, 5 days a week. But after one day in the "caterpillar" room, with the youngest kids (or, "not age appropriate" as Buzz says), they begin to doubt the sincerity of Lots-O and the other toys. Meanwhile, Woody has been snatched up by a sweet little girl named Bonnie and taken to her home where he meets another set of lovable toys, but he's determined to get back to his friends and to Andy.
There was something about Toy Story 2 that didn't connect with me. It didn't have the simple magic that the first Toy Story had, but didn't have its own magic to ride on either. Toy Story 3, on the other hand, has that magic. There's an amazing amount of heart poured into this movie, the characters and relationships (both positive and negative) drawn with more care and developing in much more interesting ways. I was afraid at one point that it would simply be a case of "heroes triumph over villain" and I'd have to leave the theater telling myself "Yeah, it was good. I just wish it had been more than that." Thankfully, I didn't. I even found Lots-O's backstory fascinating on its own in how it shaped the toy we see. There's also a wonderful development between Jessie and Buzz, made most hysterical when Buzz gets accidentally switched to Spanish mode, taking on the over-the-top poetic lover mode of a Spanish hero.
So, unsurprisingly, Pixar has delivered us another masterpiece, with the best ending since the perfection of Monsters, Inc's. Pixar has to mess up eventually, they can't keep up with this kind of excellence forever. Sadly, I have a feeling that next summers Cars 2 will be that slip up. We don't need a sequel to their worst movie. A movie I still liked, sure, but their weakest movie by a wide margin. Regardless, this time they've given us another movie to stand alongside their best. I've previously given 4 Pixar movies my highest rating (4 stars, 10/10, or whatever you want to quantify it as), and Toy Story 3 will join them. It may not reach the poetic brilliance that Wall-E did, or cut straight to my heart like Remy's love of food in Ratatouille did, but Toy Story 3 easily sits next to the family saga/action bonanza of The Incredibles and the unadorned majesty of the original Toy Story as not only Pixar's best work, but among the great gifts the art of animated cinema has ever given us.