STUDIO: Walt Disney Home Entertainment
MSRP: $45.99
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

  • Day And Night Theatrical Short Filmmakers Commentary With Commentary By Director Lee Unkrich and Producer Darla Anderson
  • Bonus: The Gang’s All Here – A look at the returning voice talent for Toy Story 3.
  • Toys! – A look at all the toys from updating classic characters to developing the Sunnyside Daycare and Bonnie’s Room toys.
  • Buzz Lightyear Mission Logs: The Science of Adventure (conj with NASA)
  • Paths to Pixar: Pixar Editors, past and future, share anecdotes about their career path.
  • Studio Stories: Where’s Gordon? There’s a hidden room at Pixar that we call the Where’s Gordon?, and this is its story.
  • Studio Stories: Cereal Bar The majestic and expansive Pixar cereal bar is explored.
  • Studio Stories: Clean Start The Pixar animation team shaves their heads to mark the start of TS3 animation.
  • A Toy’s Eye View: Creating a Whole New Land
  • Interactive Game: Toy Story Trivia Dash
  • Cine-Explore by Dir. Lee Unkrich and Prod. Darla Anderson
  • Beyond the Toybox -commentary track
  • Beginnings
    with Michael Arndt – Screenwriter Michael Arndt analyzes successful
    opening scenes from Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.
  • Bonnie’s
    Playtime – A roundtable discussion with the Lee Unkrich and the story
    artists who brought the “Bonnie’s Playtime” scene to life.
  • Roundin’
    Up a Western Opening – Development process and scene analysis of
    “Western Opening” in its various iterations through the story process.
  • Goodbye Andy – An exploration of character design, acting and animation in the scene “Andy’s Goodbye”.
  • The
    Accidental Toymakers of Pixar – Meet the makers of the original Buzz
    Lightyear and watch how the newest version of Buzz – the Ultimate Buzz
    is constructed.
  • Life of a Shot – Overview of artist contribution to
    each step of the production pipeline on a select group of shots from the
    Western Opening of Toy Story 3.
  • Making of Day and Night
  • Epilogue – Stand-alone 1.33 version of the Epilogue.
  • Ken’s Dating Tips, Lotso Commercials, “Dancing with the Stars” at Pixar
  • Trailers and More

The Pitch

“We’re Pixar. You’re seriously questioning *our* motives? Stanton, have the disbeliever taken outside and beaten with our many Oscars in full view of the public.”

The Humans

d. Lee Unkrich

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Jodi Benson, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg, Timothy Dalton, Jeff Garlin, Kristen Schaal, TOTORO.

The Nutshell

With Andy now moving off to college, Woody and his friends are forced to make hard decisions about their future, leading them to abandon Andy’s house in favor of a day care center where the living isn’t as easy as it seems.

The Lowdown

Let’s just say it right off the bat: Yes, Toy Story 3 is an unnecessary sequel. Coming off an utter original artistic triumph like Up to risk potentially trampling over sacred ground is a bit of a disappointment. However, if a sequel had to be made, there was only ever one road available for this series, these characters to take. Toy Story 3 takes it, with an unexpected left turn in classic genre territory to boot. The question is whether they succeed at dodging the same accursed animated sequel bullet they dodged with Toy Story 2 and made a sequel worthy of its pedigree, and there’s where it gets complex.

It’s a little known fact, but Charlie Dillon and the other jocks on campus managed to tag several bedrooms before getting to David Greene’s.

If we’re talking solely as an animated film, it’s a winner, without a doubt. The same Pixar attention to detail, nuance of performance, and ability to hit the most primal buttons within us all is still here. John Lasseter and his crew eat, live, and breathe this medium. On an off day, Pixar still gives us A Bug’s Life and Cars. Meanwhile, other studios at the height of their power can’t make films that even reside in the same county as some of the minor moments of this one. Yes, there is How To Train Your Dragon. We’ll get to that. Their ability to appreciate all things joyous, fun, and uncynical within us all and translate those factors to screen is unparalelled.

Ironically, that almost ends up being the problem for Toy Story 3.

As mentioned, there was only one road available to Pixar to make a third Toy Story. Let’s strip away all semblance of kids’ movie from the series and get down to brass tacks: If the first film was about middle/old age dealing with deluded, capricious youth, and the second ended up being about retirement, death, and to a lesser degree immortality, the only interesting place for this movie to go was the afterlife, or rather, life after Andy. And the film gets in trouble early on by keeping the toys and the toy chest in Andy’s room, even though he’s a high school graduate. The fated move to the attic that drives the film would’ve happened somewhere between getting cable hooked up in his room, and “I just woke up, why am I all sticky?”, frankly. More than that, his absolute, hostile reaction to little sister Molly coming even within spitting distance of any of his old toys comes off all sorts of wrong. But one gets the sense, somewhere in the back of the minds of all the crew, this is the kind of kid who would grow up to work at Pixar. That’s a mindset they get, and I’m willing to run with that for the sake of the film, but its worth noting how much this disconnects us from Andy as audience cipher/caring deity of the toys.

Overall, Andy was a good owner to his toys, except for that one time he dreamed up a new game for them called “Ozzfest”.

Anyway, the film sets up its surprisingly Eastern toy afterlife early on. Eternity lies either in reincarnation (in the arms of a new kid), nirvana (day care, the neverending love of children, but no need for an owner), purgatory (the attic), or Hell itself (The trash). The truly effective thematic material in the film comes from Pixar not backing down from the spiritual issues that have always dwelled in the background of each of these films, but are now forced to become the text. The toys argue about their own purpose, Woody maintains his faith in the face of obsolescence (even though he faces being shelved at college, he chooses it, because it’s in service to Andy), the crisis of faith led by Jessie, and whether its within their rights to seek salvation elsewhere. However, when Sunnyside Day Care is introduced, and Lotso Huggin’ Bear becomes a factor, the strength of this story as Existentialism For Kids takes a backseat to a good old fashioned prison break movie.

That’s not a bad thing in and of itself. The meat of this film is a genuinely entertaining, energetic ride that feels like a studio at the height of its powers doing something that they groove on for its own sake, and retrofitting it with beloved characters. The Day Care itself has hundreds of new toy possibilities, and Pixar plays their cards here wisely, going only after the choice gags and moments out of all available options. The big laughs–Spanish Buzz, and Mr. Tortilla Head–are amazing but my favorite little touch comes early: the mere idea that Rex gets a little posse of leaf-eaters. On top of that, they take their last time out in the toy universe to take a sizeable step into the darkness, in both humor and menace, a step that may scare the hell out of some of the youngins, and put a few parents on edge, but it definitely makes for more effective cinema, as well as a tangible, overwhelming threat that the film needs. Big Baby in particular ends up being a tricky tonal balancing act. There’s an inherent creepiness about making an emotionless baby doll into a villain, and yet somehow, the film manages to create empathy for the thug at just the right moments, and it’s all done through the lips, it seems. Combined with an effortless, easy knowledge of the genre they’re parodying here, the prison break adventure for these characters ends up being a strong piece of animation when its all said and done.

“Monsieur Woody? I envy you.”

The issue is that where the themes that compelled these characters to action in the last two films were woven into plot every step of the way, those ideas take a backseat for just about the entire second act, which is pretty much entirely madcap, spitballed ideas. And it doesn’t have to. We get just enough of a glimpse at life with Bonnie to make the last scene play like gangbusters, but Lotso’s a rather huge inroad to the central theme. His role in the daycare is equal parts warden and clergy, seeing as he assigns himself as the only road by which toys get to the promised land, while denying the existence of God/his kid. His last spoken line in the film hits the nail on the head pretty directly, but it’s still a killer in context. Hell, if you wanna take it that far into SPOILERTOWN, for all intents and purposes, Lotso even gets crucified as a heretic at the end. NOW LEAVING SPOILERTOWN. But our emotional investment in these characters making it to the attic or wherever is shoved aside far too easily to allow the film to settle for just being cool. The real goodbyes for these characters are really just bookends to a slickly made animated action film. The film handles the segue to the real twilight times these characters face rather well, especially since the climax to the big escape is a trip to the garbage dump which has some of the strongest, most harrowing material Pixar’s ever done. The emotional release that follows is all but welcome. However, these two threads seem disconnected in a way the other two films in this series weren’t. The ending, as beautifully melancholy as it still is, gathers the vast majority of its weight from the journeys we’ve taken in two prior films more than the events of this one.

I feel like I’ve spent a lot of this time beating up on the film. I almost want to apologize for that fact. It has all the elements of a wonderful piece of work that lets Sheriff Woody and the gang go out on a high note. And when it hits its stride, it’s magical. But where the other two films felt like cohesive statements on their respective themes, this feels like a side story bookended by a strong but almost tangentally related statement. This would normally be the point where we remember the words of that old film geek spiritual, “It’s still better than what Dreamworks is doing”. And yet this year will go down as only the second time* in over a decade a Dreamworks film has managed to outclass Pixar in terms of subtext, action, and major character risk. Especially character risk. The more adult jokes here and the garbage dump scenes in Toy Story 3 are to be commended, but you will know the man who made the crucial decision about Hiccup in How To Train Your Dragon’s ending by the wheelbarrow he uses to carry his testicles around.

Regretfully, Woody’s quest to silence Sherri Shepherd once and for all would end in failure. But he would live all his days with a quiet dignity, knowing he tried.

What you’re left with in Toy Story 3 is an A-class animated film, an upper-mid-range Pixar film, only bolstered because of the attachment we already have, and a film that’s better than the first film due solely to the leaps and bounds in craft made in the 15 years since the original. Had this just been an hour and a half long prison break, like it very much wants to be, I’d maybe rank it slightly below the first film. Other studios spend their nights praying for mediocrities that good on their resume.

Toy Story 3‘s not a bad film. It’s actually a damn good film. It just has the rotten luck of coming from the studio that made Up, is all.

8.5 out of 10

The Package

The Look

It’s Pixar. On Blu Ray. It’s PERFECT. Moving on.

10 out of 10

The Sound

Here’s where things get a bit more surprising. There’s both a DTS 7.1 and 5.1 track here. Both are absolute beasts. The clarity and mix of naturalistic sound effects for most of the film is blissful, but there’s bass blasts in the opening train robbery that shook every window on my floor of the house, the scenes at Sunnyside Day Care have scattered, chaotic action from every corner, and the garbage dump is easily demo disc material. The previous films weren’t slouches in this arena either, but there’s a dynamic to the scenes here they don’t have, and these two soundtracks take full advantage of that fact.

9.5 out of 10

“I miss my Snuggly Bear.” He doesn’t say it. There’s no room for plushness. Not in Sparta.

The Bonuses

Disc 1 has the utterly brilliant Day & Night short that played before the film in theaters, an 8 minute clip about the new toys and character models that needed to be created for the film, another cool little clip of Buzz Lightyear’s adventure on the International Space Station like the other two TS Blu Rays had, and a set of trailers, including one for The Incredibles on Blu Ray that had me needing a bib.

The real gluttony is on Disc 2. It’s split in two sections, one for Family, one for Film Fans, but unlike some Disney discs, the family section actually has material worth a damn. There’s a fun, heartfelt featurette about the voice cast that needs about 30 more minutes with the painfully adorable Kristen Schaal. “Goodbye Andy” is what it sounds like: The making of the final sequence. What I’ve always loved about Pixar’s look into creating CG is how much of these featurettes isn’t nerdy guys sitting at computers fiddling with software, but animators talking about performance, and seeing how much care and forethought went into how that scene needs to play is still inspiring. It’s also interspersed with these wonderful impressionist style paintings of the scene that I’d kill to have hanging on my wall somewhere.

“Accidental Toymakers” has a little bit about how Lotso needed to be physically created and prototyped so the animators could get a sense of his feel and proportions, but most of it covers how John Lasseter got Woody and Buzz created for the original. That line from Tour Guide Barbie in the second film about Buzz Lightyears selling out? I hadn’t realized how not exaggerated that was. “A Toy’s Eye View” is a quick look at the Toy Story presence in Disney’s theme parks, which almost makes me want to go back to Disneyworld. Almost. The Epilogue is just the footage that plays over the credits, without the credits rolling next to it.

Film Fans has a Cine-Explore mode which should look familiar from past Pixar Blus: Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson do a straight forward, but entertaining commentary with behind the scenes artwork, models, and storyboards playing over it. There’s tons of little gems to be gleaned here, including the fact that the mushroom cloud of monkeys at the beginning was Brad Bird’s idea, how many alternate gags and action beats were created for the prison break (they considered getting a LOT more mileage out of Mr. Tortilla Head, and it would’ve broken the flow a bit, but there was a moment of the gang inside the garbage truck, hiding out in an abandoned doll house while it collapses that sounds absolutely terrifying), and yes, the garbageman is definitely Sid. They even got the same actor to come back and be the character model and voice. A lot more of those aforementioned impressionist paintings show up here. Again, my wall feels suddenly very naked. The Story, Animation, and Production leads get their own plain jane audio track which is, as expected, a bit drier and technical, but still has a focus on performance and storytelling that doesnt really happen on other animated films when their CGI team gets to talking.

“Rounding Up A Western Opening” talks about the evolution of the big actiony opening from the bland one in the script to what it is now, pretty much spear headed by one of Brad Bird’s Incredibles alumni. “Bonnie’s Playtime: A Story Roundtable” talks about developing the character of Bonnie and her interaction with the other toys, and I’ll say this much: I’m 100% against a Toy Story 4, but if they decide to make a Disney Channel cartoon called Bonnie’s Play Time where she gets 20 minute episodes to act out some of the irresistably charming drawings of different play scenarios they conceived of for this film, I’ll watch the hell out of it.

“Yes, yes, I know why you’re here. This prototype is just an assistant, my personal guard, but the first shipment of attack cyborgs will be made obedient to your specifications and done by this Thursday. You’ll get the second after I see the money in my offshore account. Now if–um….I mean, ‘Who’s da cweepy man, mama? I dun like stwangers.'”

“Beginnings” is a 6 minute clip of Michael Arndt explaining Scriptwriting 101. For most of the people reading this site, this shouldn’t be new information, but it’s worth watching only because the featurette’s in HD, he uses clips from Finding Nemo and The Incredibles as examples, and again, the lack of bib is a problem. “Life Of A Shot” is a fun, if redundant little feature showing all the different people and departments that work on the opening sequence, right down to the guy who caters Lee Unkrich’s lunch. He has a thing for steamed broccoli, apparently.

The one thing keeping this set from true perfection: “The Making of Day and Night” is just two minutes of the creators trying to explain the short, to themselves, to other people, even to John Lasseter, and failing, opting instead to just show footage. No actual making of, or explanation of the animation trickery involved, of which there had to be no small amount. Commentary would’ve even been fine. It’s kinda disgraceful.

“Paths To Pixar: Editorial”, and the three Studio Stories clips continue the tradition from the other two Toy Story sets. Paths to Pixar shows the professional in roads to getting to work at Pixar, this time from the editors. This one doesn’t tell us anything we don’t know, however, unlike the other two, which had some wonderful stories about the math/science backgrounds of some of the animators. The Studio Stories, however, show just how hatefully awesome it is to work there. It’s like Google: Every time they show something new about the work environment makes you want to either burn the place down out of sheer jealousy, or apply to that place and tell them any and everything they can imagine doing in a dark alley with another human being, you will do it to get that job. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me this time is the ridiculously large, FREE cereal bar. Bastards. Either way, these fun little stories are simply, but humorously animated, and all envy aside, they’re a treat to watch.

On top of all that, there’s a ton of publicity materials, including a segment on Ken’s Dating Tips that may very well be the funniest thing on the disc, and some cute throwback domestic and Japanese Lotso Bear commercials which, oddly enough, get a better making-of than Day and Night, an EPK segment on some people from that Dancing With The Stars show on being consulted to choreograph Spanish Buzz and Jessie’s last dance, a DVD of the film, and the Digital Copy.

It occurs to me now I could’ve just ended this early and just repeated “It’s Pixar. On Blu Ray.”

10 out of 10

9.5 out of 10

(*–In case you’re wondering, we’re talking about Antz being better than A Bug’s Life here. I don’t know where you people drinking the “Kung Fu Panda is better than Wall*E” Kool Aid come from, but my heart goes out to you all for how painfully wrong you are.)