Toy Story 3 : 5 of 5

Like every other Disney and Pixar fan, I couldn't wait to see Toy Story 3, and opening day couldn't get here fast enough. With such a fantastic line-up of characters so well established in the original films, it would have been difficult for Pixar to make a bad Toy Story movie, but of course they completely knocked it out of the park by creating another animation masterpiece that succeeds on every level! As a testiment of Pixar's dedication to making good films with excellent stories above all other concerns, rather than churn out a simple Woody and Buzz adventure without taking risks, they chose to focus on the difficult story of a boy growing up and parting with his beloved childhood toys. Naturally, along the way this becomes a hilarious journey through the perilous Sunnyside Daycare and its crazed, snot-nosed kiddos (as well as the deceptively sinister Lots-O-Huggin Bear), but the story is well bookended by sincere emotions that stir up nostalgia in the entire audience. Because the plot is so wonderful, there's almost no need to mention the quality of the animation, which is perfect as you would expect (and the 3D presentation is completely unnecessary, although done well). You would think the introduction of so many new characters (tons of supporting role toys, including the hilarious Ken doll who lives for fashion) could drive the story out of control, but Pixar allows these new additions to be funny while the main plot stays on course. Of course there are hundreds of laughs to be enjoyed (Buzz dancing in "Spanish mode" and wooing Jessie comes to mind!), but I'm more impressed with the sheer emotion found in scenes like the garbage dump, where our hero toys silently grasp each other's hands to say good bye as they face certain doom - simply brilliant animated acting. The final scenes of the film were practically designed to bring buckets of tears to a toy lover like me, but ultimately leave the viewer supremely happy and entertained. As usual when it comes to Pixar, I could go on forever about what I liked in Toy Story 3 (and truthfully it's difficult to think of anything I would change!), but I'll save that for my review of the eventual Blu-ray release, which I wish I was watching at this very moment!