| Sheriff Woody (voice of Tom Hanks), space ranger Buzz Lightyear (voice of Tim Allen) and the rest of the Roundup gang from the toy chest are back in a timeless classic that is one of the year’s best movies.
Pixar Animation Studios now aligned with Walt Disney Pictures is a lock to add more Oscars to the trophy case in the animated feature category.
The love and warmth that went into the genuine storytelling will surely bring out the inner child existing in all of us. This much anticipated threequel opens with a runaway train and a bridge explosion that pits Woody and Jessie (voice of Joan Cusack) against Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (vocalized by Don Rickles and Estelle Harris).
Buzz saves the day with an assist from the green plastic dinosaur Rex (voice of Wallace Shawn) and piggy bank Hamm (voice of the legendary John Ratzenberger who has been a good luck charm with a role in every feature length Pixar film).
This wild scenario is just an example of a child’s enthusiastic and boundless imagination during playtime.
A moving montage of home video clips span nearly a dozen years as the toys’ owner Andy (voice of John Morris) goes from age 6 to 17.
The movie is told from the loyal toys’ perspective whose owner is now grownup and about to leave for college.
Andy’s mom gives Andy an ultimatum to clean up his room. Everything must either go to the attic for storage, off to college or thrown away in trash bags.
Andy’s little sister Molly is getting ready to move into Andy’s room and has a box filled with inanimate objects designated for donation to the nearby Sunnyside daycare.
Andy tosses all of his toys except Woody into a trash bag and intends to take it up to the attic. Andy’s mother mistakes it for trash and takes it out to the curb for pickup.
The first of several cliffhangers finds these familiar playthings that can move and talk ending up at Sunnyside. They are greeted by Lotso (voice of Ned Beatty), a jumbo pink plush teddy bear who smells like strawberries and likes hugs. He tells them that all the toys are castoffs with no owners.
This means no heartbreak or abandonment issues and a chance to be played with on a daily basis. He introduces us to Big Baby and a seemingly effeminate Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton) who has his own dream house with a whole room for trying on clothes. It is love at first sight for Barbie (voice of Jodi Benson who is famous for the title role of Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”) who falls for this dreamy guy in short shorts.
Sunnyside turns out to be a prison. During the day, the sticky-fingered toddlers play rough with the toys.
They are locked up tighter than a drum when the lights go out. Woody formulates a harrowing jailbreak escape plan that will have audiences on pins and needles as the suspense builds.
The design work is spectacular and the cinematography is vivid utilizing every color imaginable in the crayon box.
The sight gags and jokes make this a fun and thoroughly enjoyable ride.
One of the more memorable scenes has Ken putting on a fashion show complete with disco-style strobe lights.
Parents will be able to identify with the empty nest syndrome and kids will understand the maturation process.
Lee Unkrich earned the right to be in the saddle as director after co-helming “Toy Story 2,” “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.”
The fantastic screenplay by Michael Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine”) is derived from a story meticulously hammered out during a brainstorming retreat attended by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Unkrich.
Oscar winner Randy Newman (“The Princess and the Frog,” “Cars’ and Monsters, Inc”) composed and conducted the musical score which includes the hit song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”
A new tune, “We Belong Together,” plays over the end credits and should get an Oscar nod for best original song.
This endearing escapist summer adventure will bring tears to your eyes and is not to be missed.
A very clever six-minute short “Day & Night” precedes the feature attraction. Two hand-drawn hood-shaped creatures with big eyes and prominent noses silhouetted against a black background interact with sound effects and music.
The light blue one is always showing daytime CGI scenes on his body while the dark blue caricature reflects after dark occurrences.
Besides the standard 2D, this nostalgic and sentimental movie is available in Disney Digital 3D and IMAX 3D (exclusively in Johnson County at AMC Studio 30) premium formats.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"