The last few weeks have been extremely busy for me.  I was graduating from college, moving out of my house (that’s a generous word for it), trying to find a job (still trying), and going on a family vacation to the most wonderful place on earth.  But in the midst of it all I managed to wrangle my family into seeing the midnight showing of the highly anticipated Toy Story 3.  After a great graduation dinner, my family and I watched a movie that was more relevant than I could have ever imagined.

Toy Story 3 is a continuation of the most profitable franchise in Disney history.  In many ways, the first in the trilogy saved a somewhat old-fashioned Disney company.  Disney continues to capitalize on the franchise, as WDW has two rides dedicated to it, and an entire meet and greet area for characters at Hollywood Studios’ Pixar Place.  This third film will only continue to bolster the already superb series’ popularity and loveability.

The whole crew is back (Woody, Buzz, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, etc.) and maybe more importantly, all of their celebrity voices have returned (don’t forget how I felt about Maggie Gylenhall in The Dark Knight).  The continuation of the first two stories is at the very core of the entire movie as well it should be.  Andy is now going off to college and trying to figure out what to do with all of his old things.  The toys band together to figure out how they will fit into the picture and discover a lot about themselves and friendship along the way.

As always, the Disney Digital 3D was pristine.  The depth that it adds to the film gives it literally and figuratively a whole new dimension, and I would highly encourage that you experience this one at least once in theaters for that very reason.  Pixar always produces stunning visuals and this is no exception.  When paired again with the brilliant work of singer-songwriter Randy Newman, who composed much of the soundtrack, you have a great experience, regardless of what actually takes place.

But as I always harp on, story is everything.  Not only is the plot in this one relatable, but it also has a feel-good theme.  As a college kid that just spent a graduation vacation in WDW, I can relate to the opening of the film.  Andy, going away to college, still wants to hang on to some of his childhood, namely his favorite toys.  While this is only a small part of the kickoff, I feel that it is very important in the overall plot, including its conclusion.  Without giving away too much, the toys figure out away to leave everyone happy in the end and give the audience a heartfelt “others before self” resolution.

I don’t think that the story is quite as engaging as the first two, but it is still up to typical Disney standards.  While I felt that Up!  was a step back in the right direction after I was severely disappointed with WALL-E, this is a leap in that same direction.  If I had to choose an area that the movie could have improved, it would have been the inclusion of more well-known toys (although Michael Keaton’s Ken doll performance is very good), and the addition of some more wit in the comedy.  Toy Story 3 was successful in that it continued the Pixar legacy and re-emphasized the connection to Disney.  It is still in recent memory that Pixar and Disney were considered to be going their separate ways.  While Toy Story redefined what Disney animation would look like in the future, Toy Story 3 reinforces that the Disney-Pixar team is the best in the business.  This film is great for everyone from kids to those still holding onto their childhoods.

4.5 Stars out of 5

Contributed by: James N.(NDI#82). James is the Disney Driven Life’s resident movie reviewer and creator of The CLAWtomic BAUM Movie Reviews Blog

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