Whether it’s The Godfather Part III, The Matrix Revolutions or Shrek the Third, second sequels rarely measure up to the preceding installments. Thankfully, Toy Story 3 is an exception.
Displaying the same combination of vibrant visuals, indelible characters and strong vocal performances, this is a worthy successor to the first two animation blockbusters.
The plot once again hinges on the genial cowboy (Hanks), his space-ranger pal (Allen) and the other toy buddies. When their teenage owner heads for college, the discarded playthings are donated to a daycare center full of toddlers.
Their new abode, however, is hardly the paradise that they were led to expect. The place is run like a high-security prison dominated by a ruthless teddy bear (superbly dubbed by Ned Beatty).
A great escape is planned with our little plastic heroes deciding to make a break for freedom. The penultimate sequence, with the toy gang on the verge of incineration, is uncharacteristically grim.
Taking over the reins from John Lasseter who helmed both the earlier editions, incoming director Unkrich (a Pixar veteran whose credits include Monsters,Inc.) brings considerable care and warmth to the enterprise.
Besides the series regulars including Joan Cusack as the yodeling cow-girl, there are hilarious voice debuts by Michael Keaton as the well-groomed ‘girl’s-toy’ and ex-Bond Timothy Dalton as a finicky hedgehog. Once again, Randy Newman provides the peppy background score.
Even after the third go-around, the Toy Story series hasn’t worn out its welcome. Rather, kids and adults alike could end up asking for more.