Review in a Hurry: Another sentimental journey with some old friends, new scene-stealers and a powerful, heartfelt mix of sugar and spice. (Let's just say, there ain't a dry eye in the house during the last 10 minutes.)
The Bigger Picture: It wasn't just the technology that set the original Toy Story apart in 1995. At the time, the effects were eye-popping, but the tone of the film made it such a beloved favorite. Bright and colorful toys delighted kids, and adults found the script wickedly funny.
Looking back, the visuals in Toy Story actually look like Grand Theft Auto—rubbery and 2-D. While Toy Story 2 showed an immediate improvement, the work in 3 is even more stunning. Textures and movement are so lifelike, a few shots, taken out of context, could fool a casual onlooker into thinking the movie is live action.
Story-wise, the filmmakers have wisely let the actual amount of time elapse in between movies, so Andy, the toys' owner, is now off to college. He chooses Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) to take with him, and the rest find themselves donated to a day care; at first it seems they've made it to toy heaven.
Unfortunately, there's a Lord of the Flies thing going on at Sunnyside Daycare, and it's up to our gang to break free. The escape plan is nothing short of ingenious; the emotional texture of every single character is rich; the effects, while shiny and cool, still have a dinged-up, well-loved realism.
The script is nimble, sharp, and packed with clever visual jokes, yet it recognizes the bittersweet nostalgia that comes with growing up.
Ah, and then there's Ken. He's one of the many new characters, Barbie's main man, and he's the star of the show. Voiced inventively by Michael Keaton, he's a flaming metrosexual that brings the biggest laughs this time around. I smell a spin-off...
The 180—a Second Opinion: The 3-D does little to enhance the movie, adding barely a sliver of spatial dimension. After a while, wearing the glasses is pointless and annoying. Why gild the lily?