Toy Story 3 Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated June 26th, 2010 at 4:44 pm,

Toy Story 3 movie image 11 Toy Story 3 Review
Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Toy Story 3

Have I mentioned recently how much I love Pixar? When you have a company creating film after film, and the worst thing that you can say about its weakest (Cars) is that it was “just good,” then you have a once in a lifetime company to be treasured – and those who run it should be thanked endlessly for their work.

Some people raised an eyebrow when Toy Story 3 was announced. Was Pixar being strong-armed by Disney just to squeeze more money out of a brand consisting of two excellent movies? Were they running out of original ideas (snicker… RIGHT). Well now that it’s done, let’s be supremely thankful that Pixar veterans Lee Unkrich, John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton brought the now familiar gang back together for a final film.

Prior to the film there was a customary animated short, which I won’t describe in detail to not spoil the surprise other than to say that it was one of the most creative and cute animations I’ve seen from Pixar (and that’s saying a lot). Right up until the end, that is, where it closed with some unnecessary dialog that felt just a touch preachy. But let’s move on to the main event…

Toy Story 3 opens in a similar vein to the previous film, but this time Woody (Tom Hanks) is the hero of the imaginary adventure. We’re in the old west and he’s trying to save a train full of orphans that has been hijacked by the evil Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. Right from the opening minutes the film will put a smile on your face and please you with surprises.

There’s a sweet montage right after that which shows Andy (owner of our little group of friends) on videotape as we remember him from the previous films, playing with and loving his favorite toys.We see him grow up a bit, and now he’s 17 years old and days away from leaving for college. Our gang hasn’t seen much play action, spending who knows how many years now closed up in an old toy chest.

Well with Andy leaving, mom wants to clean things up and Andy has to decide what to take with him, what to throw away, donate or put up in the attic for storage. Except for Woody and Buzz (Tim Allen), the toys are freaking out thinking they’re headed for the city dump. While of course they weren’t headed that way, some confusion ensues and they do indeed end up at the curb. Woody rescues them and tries to tell them it was a mistake, but they’re all convinced that Andy was trying to get rid of them.

Hiding in a box meant for toy donations to a local daycare center, they believe they’ve found a new home where there will be an endless supply of young children to play with them forever and they’ll never be outgrown. They’re welcomed by the veteran toys, led by Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (he smells like strawberries!). He (Ned Beatty) welcomes them, explains what a wonderful place they’ve found and shows them where they’ll be living. Turns out they’ve been placed with children too young for them and they are battered mercilessly by rough play. Eventually they come to find that this isn’t a paradise, but a prison. Woody leaves prior to this discovery, and of course the rest of the film is dedicated to setting everyone free and getting back to Andy’s house whether he wants them or not.

Prior to this film Lee Unkrich directed Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. He directed and co-wrote the film, and co-writers Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter have an honorable Pixar pedigree in both writing and directing. I’m quite tempted to say that this team can do no wrong. Toy Story 3 was laugh out loud funny, exciting, heartwarming and touching.

There are so many kudos to pass around that one doesn’t know where to start… but if I have to start somewhere it’s going to be with Ken, voiced by Michael Keaton. He is hysterically funny as the self-conscious “cool guy.” The scenes with him and Barbie (Jodi Benson) will have you giggling like a little kid (if you’re not one any more).

John Ratzenberger returns as Hamm and he’s got great one-liners aplenty, as does Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head and Joan Cusack as the ever spunky Jessie. Blake Clark has replaced Jim Varney (who passed away February 2000) as Slinky Dog. Ned Beatty does a subtle and great job as Lotso, the seemingly friendly bear with a dark side.

And man oh man does Tim Allen deliver in the second half of the film. Buzz is captured by Lotso and re-set to factory settings – but it’s when Woody and crew undo that that he will have you rolling on the floor with laughter. Puts a smile on my face just writing about it. icon smile Toy Story 3 Review Oh, and let’s not forget our three little alien friends who worship “the claaaaawwww.” They’re not in the film much, but when they do appear they’re put to great use. There are also new characters (both human and toy) to fall in love with here.

Then there’s the animation… Watch the three films back to back and you’ll see the progression in the quality of the animation – in this film the people are still stylized, but the level of detail and expression is far beyond what was in the previous film; it’s really beautiful and helps you connect to the human characters more than ever. Having said that, I did see it in 3D and frankly the film would have been just as good without it. The 3D doesn’t hurt the film – but it doesn’t really add much to it either.

And the emotional part of the film… it starts tugging at you a little bit early on, then gives way for a lot of the fun stuff, but the last 15 minutes… Holy cow, if you don’t shed a tear at some point you might just be made of stone. There’s just one scene after another, going from touching, to heartbreaking, back to touching and melancholy. There are few live action films that can reach your heart the way this one did in the last 15 minutes or so.

So why not a perfect score? Well following the opening sequence, for a while it was “just good.” Sure, we get to see our favorite characters again and that was fun, but it seemed like more of the same. It’s not really until the prison break that the film really kicks it into high gear and becomes something very, very special.

Go see Toy Story 3 and take the whole family. It might just end up being your all time favorite Pixar film.

And just for fun, here’s another look at a funny promo ad for the film that gives a good idea of Michael Keaton’s “Ken” in the film to help you decide.

[poll id="52"]

If you want to talk about the film in depth without worrying about spoiling for folks who haven’t seen it, head over to our Toy Story 3 spoilers discussion.

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

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  1. Yeah, without a doubt this is my favorite Pixar film, and so far the best one this year.

    • I cry 5 times … my tears were very heavy for me to handle… as the firt generation of toy story when the fist oe came out i was 6.. now that i watch the 3rd one i am 21 now … and it gave me a lot of melancholly .. and it was very emotional at the end .. for me toy story 3 “IS THE CULMINATION AND FAREWELL TO A GENERATION OF KIDS”

  2. Thanks Vic, im going to see this today

  3. I’m so excited this is just barely behind inception as my most anticipated 2010 film.

  4. LOVED IT!! LOVED IT!! LOVED IT!!….and choked up a bit at the end…..BUT I’M STILL A MAN DANGIT!!!!!!

  5. Great review! I will be seeing it this weekend. I’m guessing you saw it in 2D Vic? I’ll be checking it out in 3D. Have you heard anything about how the 3D is for this movie?

  6. Nevermind I guess I missed reading a part in your review and saw that you saw it in 3D. MY BAD.

  7. OMG,I just saw it!!!! It is so effing sad at the end. Like u said,if u don’t shed a tear ure made of stone. Well I’m not made of stone cause I was crying my ass off!!! The beginning,there was a part were I shed a tear,but in the end,I couldn’t hide it. It HIT me. Best pixar film!!!! Never cried this much in a movie. Definitely one of my favorite films of all time!!!!!

  8. BTW,i didnt see Sid. Did anyone see him?!? Were was he?!?

    • I heard he had a small quick cameo with his skull shirt, but i didnt see him either! I’d like to know when he was shown.

      • Oh I know now! He was shown near the end of the movie. He was the garbage man.

  9. I’m too old for this crap. ;-)

    • No 790, you’re not. You just have this odd prejudice against CGI animated films (I don’t recall if it’s Pixar in particular). You’re missing out on some of the best films of the last 15 years or so by just crossing these all off your list.


  10. Youre NEVER old for Toy Story……..

  11. Just not into childrens animation the heavy star voice overs don’t wow me.
    Its a story about toys, I’m 42 years old. I’ve seen a few minutes of the first TS and it was unwatchable. I was I think 39 at the time. ;-)

  12. Sorry you didn’t like it 790. I’m 48 and a CEO, logical thinker, hard worker, sci-fi lover, public speaker, Christian and intelligent. I loved this movie.

  13. Did anyone happen to see the new Cars 2 character? I located Lightning McQueen and The King but didn’t see a new car at all.

    • Didn’t notice it, but then wasn’t looking, either.


    • I think the new car from CARS might have been a poster in Andy’s room. There was one by the bed I think that showed a black looking car against a desert background. Not sure. And yes Sid was the garbage man at the beginning and the end. Also there were some characters from some of the Pixar Shorts around too.

  14. I just saw it….Vic you were right, it IS a tearjerker, I cried twice. It was a VERY emotional,heartlifting send off to a movie we all grew up with and loved. I suspect this will be the years best money-maker, you have little kids seeing it, with them are the parents and the teenagers who cherished the first two in their childhood,like me,…..

  15. I’d rather watch a documentary on how professional sports are rigged. ;-)

    • hehehe have you watched any of pixars movies at all ? if you havent then i suggest watching UP its such a touching movie, even for an old fart like you :P

      i would have to take a pass of the rigged sport thing matey, i would much rather watch this instead :D


      i did the comparison with 1 and 2 and it was nuts, cant imagine how detailed this is going to be :)

    • I’m with you 790.I’m probably one of the few that isn’t completely spellbound by anything that Pixar does.I watched The Incredibles on tv one night,and really liked it,mainly because it was about superheroes,but all their other stuff just isn’t for me.I might catch a few minutes if it’s on tv,but there is absolutely no way I would pay my own money to see any of these films.

      Out of all of these animated films that I’ve seen,aside from Spirited Away,which was truly a masterpiece,my favorite was The Iron Giant,and neither were 100% CG movies.I have no doubt that Up is a good movie,but it just doesn’t really interest me,and I would much rather see that than any of the Toy Story movies.

      I too would rather see a documentary about how sports are rigged,unfortunately,it would never get made,just like we will never see a movie about movie critics that get payed to give positive reviews.I think too many people would end up missing before those types of movies would ever hit the screen.

      • Thank you for that Iron giant shout out! My second favorite animated movie of all time (behind Fanatastic Mr. Fox) truly underpapreciated gems.

  16. TS 1 is and has been my favorite animated movie of all time. Now this is a close second. I think the first blew me over so much with the story along with the cutting edge CGI. I was so against CGI back then because as an artist I felt it was a bane to the craft of animation. TS1 converted me.

    I am now a mom of 3 small children and I was definitely more excited than my kids to see this. My son wanted to see Marmaduke but as an evil, selfish mommy I forced him to see this one. He liked it but at 5 he was just not “getting” the nuances. Well, it’s time to grow up little man and see the splendor! Just kidding but I did miss the credits cause he had to pee…Oh well, that’s the joys of motherhood and I am just tickled that I got to share it with them.

    I heart Pixar!

  17. Yeah Jwalka I’m not a fan of Disney/Pixar films or children themed films and I’m being very reserved at this point because obviously everyone here loved the film, good review etc.

    I understand a lot of adults like these films because of the awesome graphics and well crafted storyline that touches both child and adult, but that part of me is gone.

    But who cares I’m glad the kids like the film!!! ;-)

    • @790

      Sounds like someone needs to make a trip to Magic Mountain! :-D


  18. @Longshanks,,,
    Check out the recent paperback
    “The Fix Is In, The Showbiz Manipulations of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NASCAR.”
    By Brian Tuohy

    Would make for a great documentary if they could obtain sanctioned footage.

  19. I liked the film a lot. I don’t think it’s my favorite (that still belongs to Ratatouille. As an aspiring artist myself, that one hit a personal chord with me, and the finale is to me their best, hands down. Pure poetry.), nor do I think it’s their best (“Up” holds that spot currently, for the fact that while all Pixar characters display large amounts of humanity that makes them easy to relate to, Carl Fredrickson felt like their most complete portrait of a whole person. I hesitate to even use the term “character” to describe him as he felt as real as your own grandfather.).

    I would say I think that while the daycare material was enjoyable and fun (though my mind kept wandering back to memories of “Chicken Run” which overall did the ‘prison escape’ parody more effectively), the film didn’t really kick in until the last act, and Lotso’s back-story felt too similarly connected to Stinky Pete’s from the previous film – as does his eventual fate.

    Until that third act, I felt somewhat disconnected with the characters, and the events seemed more like a reverse-engineered way to put them into their final perilous predicament than the organic result of decisions the characters were making because of who they were and what they were thinking, the way the previous two films did effortlessly. That said, the film never lost my attention with “Spainish Buzz” and “Mr. Tortilla Head.

    I loved the stuff with the toys in Bonnie’s room and wish there was more of Timothy Dalton’s Mr. Pricklepants in particular. And of course, the ending made my eyes leak like broken faucets. I just wish that character moments like the ones on display there were interspersed throughout the middle of the movie more. Would’ve sealed the deal a little better on selling the ‘why’ of Woody’s choice at the end of the movie. Something like what Buzz’s speech to Woody just before the final act of TS2 began, with Woody symbolically rubbing off the fresh paint on his foot revealing Andy’s name – that kind of thing.

    I will probably see the film again, as there is the chance that with so much going on that I missed some elements which would assuage my reservations, and be able to raise my overall opinion of the movie, which is already an overall positive one.

    Oh, and I loved the opening scene and set up. Dr. Evil Porkchop had me in stitches.

  20. @790

    Yeah,like that’s ever going to happen.

    I’ve been preaching about how the NBA and the NFL are rigged,for years now,before anyone else was really saying it.I used to get laughed at,but now it seems that there are a lot people are coming around.

  21. If you want We can take this over to the Open Discussion thread Longshanks.
    Seriously I don’t want to derail this Toy Story3 review.

  22. Yeah,I was thinking the same thing,but I’ve pretty much said my peace on it.

  23. ;-)

    Check out that source/paperback Longshanks.


  24. Just saw it again on the dame day. THATS how good it was!!!!!:)

  25. Oh I want to see this now but I’m in Germany and have to wait until late July. UG! Can’t wait.

  26. I like Pixar but it’s not perfect Up, Toy Story and The Incredibles are all great but for me that’s it. Didn’t like the Rat movie or Cars and I passionately hate Wall-E

  27. @VIC
    Hey can u make a thread were we can discuss the movie,u know only for ppl whove seen it? I really wanna talk toy story with ppl whove already seen it……Id appreciate it:)

    • @Ricky18

      I didn’t know if there would be that much interest in a spoiler discussion post, but I suppose I can set one up.


  28. Hey folks,

    We’ve set up a spoiler discussion post where you can talk about all the details of Toy Story 3 without ruining it for folks who haven’t seen it:


  29. I just got back from the theater and I was blown away. As I mentioned on another website, I have a son who just turned 18 and the original Toy Story was one of the first movies we all saw together. A picture of him dressed as Buzz when he was 6 still sits in our bedroom. I know it sounds a little overly dramatic, but the ending of the film struck such a chord in me that I’m still feeling a bit emotional an hour later. Saying goodbye to those wonderful characters is hard enough, but all the subtext in it for me was very moving. Well done Pixar.