TOY STORY 3 2.5/4
Walt Disney Pictures, Rated G
With 15 years since the onset of the Toy Story craze, and more than a decade following the first sequel, Toy Story 3 is faced with the dual challenge of not only reprising its nostalgic appeal for a generation who have left that childhood fantasy behind, but also to seduce a current crop of jaded kid audiences who’ve already been bombarded with elaborate high-tech digital screen magic since birth.
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So has Toy Story 3 been worth the wait? Let’s just say sometimes long overdue anticipation is not a good thing, especially when faced with all the animated competition that’s turned up along the way. And animated may well be the best choice of words in this instance, as too much action for its own good and perpetual panic appear to have preempted attention to story and character detail. And from where this critic sat, literally and otherwise, the adults in the audience seemed to be a whole lot more charmed and amused than their fidgety kid companions.
When the sequel begins, Andy (John Morris) is nearly grown up— never a good sign for playthings. While packing up to head off to college, Andy is faced with the dilemma of whether to cart his chest full of toys over to the local day care center, let a couple of favorites tag along with him, stuff the lot in the attic or just toss them in the trash. Cowpoke Woody (Tom Hanks), the eternal optimist boy toy with the most leadership qualities and organizational skills, springs into action. After numerous close calls, the toys end up at the day care, where they’re kicked around and abused by insensitive toddlers when not tyrannized by Lotso (Ned Beatty), a stuffed animal tyrant.
The detours into random, delightful silliness are the funniest points in the movie, including a supremely vain and possibly duplicitous Ken doll in a chance encounter with an irresistible Barbie; mechanical space cadet Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) getting his wires accidentally crossed, and reprogrammed into a Spanish-speaking chivalrous Latin lover; and a candy vending machine as a cover for an internal gambling den, where an incorrigible assortment of toys play with deposited money.
Beyond the revisited antics for the memory lane buffs, there’s not much to impress the small fries in attendance. It leaves the feeling the Lee Unkrich-directed (Finding Nemo) and Michael Arndt-scripted (Little Miss Sunshine) big-screen spectacle is merely toying with their affections.