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Movie Review: 'Toy Story 3'

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"Toy Story 3" opens today nationwide.


"Toy Story 3" opens today nationwide.
To tell the truth, we didn't even remember what the heck "Toy Story 2" was about when we agreed to take our 5 year-old son Calvin to an advanced screening of "Toy Story 3" this week but in doing a bit of research we thought it was nuts that there hasn't been a "Toy Story" movie since 1999! That being said, we were less than sanguine when we went to the theater to absorb what we thought would be another phoned-in installment of this Hollywood franchise but we ended up being more than pleasantly surprised.In what appears to be the final episode of the story of Andy's toys, there are plenty of hijinks and attention-grabbing sequences featuring Woody hang-gliding and a daring escape attempt from the Sunnyside Daycare Center where they have "mistakenly" been dropped off. Funny enough, when I asked my co-reviewer, Calvin, what parts he liked most he glommed on to the more emotionally engaging scenes between the now-on-his-way-to-college Andy and a little girl whom he introduces his toys to. Even several days later, Cal still thought the scenes of Andy showing Bonnie how to play with Woody and Buzz were the best in the movie. That's right, not the scenes with the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, no toys magically come to life.

That's what this edition of "Toy Story" did best, we thought, focusing more on real relationships and motivations of the characters and not relying so heavily on chase sequences or other flashy tricks. There are definitely some adrenaline-fueled moments in the movie but they are well-spaced and not overwhelming. We've seen some reviews that mention "dark" moments in the film and yes, there were 1 or 2 intense moments when we felt a little hand creep into ours, but they were never long or overwhelming enough to cause real distress to our 5 ("I'm going to be 6 in July") year old companion.

As an adult watching the film, even though we really don't feel like an adult most of the time, we appreciated the fact that the 3D effects were never gimmicky or otherwise used for anything other than moving the story forward. There was plenty of humor aimed at adult sensibilities, particularly the exchanges between Barbie and Ken (well-voiced by Jodi Benson and Michael Keaton). Speaking of the voices, while we like Ned Beatty we're not so sure his voicing of Lotso-Hugs the Bear was remarkable, except to make us think that there's always been something creepy about Wilford Brimley. We always like hearing Don Rickles and Estelle Harris as the Potato Heads so it was great to hear them again.

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This was a winning movie and perfect for Father's Day Weekend. Note that "Toy Story 3" will usually be seen with the Pixar short film "Day & Night" (below) which was very clever and amusing but the combined view time + trailers will push your time in the theater to nearly 2.5 hours: make that trip to the bathroom and snack bar before you head in there and get there early to get a good seat in the middle to maximize the 3D experience.

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PIXAR's "Day & Night" is being shown along with "Toy Story 3"