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Is Toy Story 3 worth playing with?

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Perhaps I should thank 3-D technology for the arrival of the new Toy Story film. IfToy Story 3. Photo courtesy of Disney. eleven years passed by and all it took was a clever chance to market a third film of the popular series in 3-D, then so be it. We all should happy that such a witty, charming, and moving family film like this has graced the 2010 summer wasteland at the box office.

Disney and Pixar are no strangers to quality. Their projects have ranged from lovable monsters to mute robots to old men in hot air balloons, and all of them have worked marvelously. Toy Story 3 may not set the benchmark for Pixar, but It does a pretty darn respectable job of reigniting the series, offering plenty of magic and a storyline that holds it’s own against the other two films.

The tale actually picks in up in real time, 11 years after the events of the last movie. Andy, now 17, is finally getting ready to leave the nest and head to college. This certainly complicates things for his childhood toys, which now face being either thrown away or stowed up in an attic collecting dust. After gathering them into a bag for consideration, they’re accidentally mistaken as trash and tossed to the curb.

After a dangerous escape, the traumatized toys face a difficult decision. Thinking they were intentionally placed in the trash, the group, head by Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) opt to hitch a ride to Sunnyside a daycare center where Andy’s mother is dropping off old toys. Woody (Tom Hanks), on the other hand, is adamantly against the notion, insisting they remain at the house because their loyalty is with Andy. Hesitantly, he goes with the rest of the group to the daycare facility, where a new beginning may await.

Upon arriving, the place appears to be a toy paradise. As far as the eyes can see, dolls, trucks, plush toys , and other gadgets pepper the grounds. The group is greeted warmly by their leader Lotso (Ned Beatty), a purple bear that smells like strawberries. Woody, feeling distraught over the situation, decides to leave Sunnyside solo and trek back to Andy, who is packing for college. The other toys soon receive a rude awakening when Lotso turns out to be much more menacing than he appears, and the toy paradise is revealed, in actuality, to be a toy prison.

Toy Story 3 works on several levels effectively. First off, it’s a sequel that rarely feels like an attempt to cash in on a popular franchise. It has a clever story, with enough wit and all around craft to make the film appear valid and relevant. While occasionally slipping into conventional territory, the story still feels fresh due to snappy dialogue and great character turns. The performances are vibrant as ever, from Hank’s devoted cowboy to Allen’s hyper rocket man, to lovely supporting turns from the likes of Timothy Dalton and Michael Keaton.

As Toy Story 3 comes to close, it pulls out another surprise by making some poignant statements about growing up, moving on, and leaving things behind. The movie even may manage to bring a tear to your eye, which is a testament to the kind of quality film this is. The summer may be plagued with forgettable fodder, but it’s nice to know that Disney and Pixar can still be counted upon to deliver something touching, funny, and wholly entertaining for those big and small.

Contact Jim Teti at jteti@philly2philly.com