Summer Blockbuster Preview: Toy Story 3

Easily one of the most anticipated films of the summer, Mark Harrison looks ahead to Pixar's Toy Story 3 in our latest blockbuster preview...

What Is It?

Ten years on from the ending of 1999’s Toy Story 2, Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the other toys in Andy’s room have come to terms with the fact that their owner will eventually grow up and leave them behind. When they came to that realisation, all was happy, and a squeaky penguin did a lounge singer rendition of You’ve Got A Friend In Me.

At the beginning of Toy Story 3, the inevitable growing up is decidedly more grim. Andy’s about to leave for college, putting all of the toys away in the attic. After a near miss with the bin man, everyone but Woody is quite resigned to letting Andy go, and the toys are dispatched to Sunnyside Daycare.

To put it simply, some of the kids don’t play as gently as Andy did, and the toys quickly realise they were better off with Andy. Woody’s already making an effort to get back home, but the older toys at Sunnyside, including Lots-O-Huggin’Bear and Ken (of Barbie and Ken), aren’t so happy to let the new arrivals escape.

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In true Toy Story fashion, it’s a race against time to get back to Andy’s house, before their old owner leaves them behind forever.

Who’s Behind It?

As ever, it’s Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios. Of the latter, we all know by now, they can do no wrong. And they could do a lot worse than to follow their most well-received film, Up, by returning to their roots with a sequel to one of their most loved properties.

Taking the director’s seat is Lee Unkrich, co-director on several of Pixar’s other films and an editor on most of the others. Unkrich has made the most fastidious and effective use of Twitter I’ve yet seen, to keep the fans updated and teased on all aspects of the film’s production over the last year or so. His tweets have consistently shown that the continuation of the story is in safe hands.

Of course, the cast is back, with Tom Hanks and Tim Allen leading the charge once again as Woody and Buzz. Some of the new additions include Ned Beatty as wizened plushy Lots-O, Michael Keaton as a preening Ken and – I swear I’m not making this up – Timothy Dalton voicing a thespian hedgehog called Mr. Pricklepants.

Why Should We Watch It?

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Did you not read that last bit? It has Timothy Dalton voicing a thespian hedgehog called Mr. Pricklepants!

On top of that, Michael Keaton! Although I’ve been saying since his casting was announced that they really should’ve got him to voice a Batman action figure. What I’ve seen and heard of his Ken doll looks to be very funny, indeed. Plus, I’d say that Pixar’s continual innovation by bringing in new characters, at a stage when most audiences would be happy just to see the ones they already know and love, is a very strong sign for a sequel.

You need more? Well, fair enough. How about the fact that it’s a Toy Story film, even if concerns in some quarters are understandable?

To wit, the first two Toy Story films are most often likened to the animated equivalent of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. That would make this sequel, picking up ten years later in the narrative and in real life, The Godfather Part III. Ah.

All indications thus far have been that this is going to be something a lot more special than Al Pacino shouting at Sofia Coppola et al for nearly three hours. Because, although it’s bound to be an unpopular opinion, I believe the Toy Story films are better than The Godfather.

For one thing, they have what those films never did –  heart. I never gave a monkeys about anyone in The Godfather except for Vito Corleone and Kay, neither of whom make the biggest showing in the nine-hour crime odyssey.

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I’m digressing massively here. On a personal level, I have to say that Toy Story was a huge part of my childhood, and that Toy Story 2 is, on almost every level, just as good. It’s a cinematic story that started when I was 6. I’m now 20, and I still can’t wait for this next film.

I can only presume that other big fans of Pixar and of Toy Story are probably as excited as I am already, as this promises to bring back some of the best-loved characters of an entire generation. This is surely the must-see family film of the summer, and the most anticipated sequel of the year by a country mile, whether you see it in 2D or 3D.

UK viewers may wish they could see it in 4D because, despite all that anticipation, Disney won’t release it here until a month after its release in the USA. We’ve had something to say on the matter here. It’s certainly going to be a long month and five days waiting for the UK release…

US Release Date: June 18thUK Release Date: July 23rd