Andy (Morris) is getting ready to go to university, so the toys are preparing to be deposited in the attic. But a mix-up sees Woody (Hanks), Buzz (Allen) and pals sent instead to Sunnyside Daycare, an apparently happy place with no end of children to play with them. Except they're put in the terrible 2's room. And the leader of the Sunnyside toys, Lots-o-Huggin Bear (Beatty) is more like a prison warden. After a series of adventures, the toys must plot an elaborate escape.
The film opens with a fantastic (and fantastical) action set piece set in the Wild West, complete with dinosaurs and spaceships, before transitioning into a more melancholy exploration of the changes life throws at us as we grow up. The sadness the toys feel about not being played with is palpable, as is the bittersweet elation of the toy paradise they enter (no one owns the toys so there's no heartbreak). And there's more to come. These dark shadings add weight and meaning to what's essentially a comical romp.
And the characters develop through increasingly beautiful animation (the 3D is very subtle) and terrific vocal work. The filmmakers weave in clever new characters, including bringing in Ken (Keaton) as a foil for Barbie (Benson).
That he gets the film's dress-up montage is a stroke of genius. And there are also inventive twists, such as a hilarious scene involving Mr Potato Head (Rickles) and a tortilla. The most memorable new character is a little girl (Hahn) who sparks something unexpected in Woody, Andy and us.
Constant comical touches keep us laughing even as things get very bleak, and there's one scene that's genuinely (and beautifully) distressing. Amid all the lively antics, this is a thoughtful story about regret for the past and fear of the future, and it leaves plenty of themes for us to think about afterwards.
Mainly, though, it'll leave children in mortal terror of ever throwing away another toy.
Run time: 103 mins
In Theaters: Friday 18th June 2010
Box Office USA: $415.0M
Box Office Worldwide: $1.1B
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Production compaines: Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Fresh: 275 Rotten: 4
IMDB: 8.4 / 10
Director: Lee Unkrich
Producer: Darla K Anderson
Screenwriter: Michael Arndt
Starring: Tom Hanks as Woody (voice), Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear (voice), Ned Beatty as Lotso (voice), Joan Cusack as Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl (voice), Michael Keaton as Ken (voice), Whoopi Goldberg as Stretch the Octopus (voice), Bonnie Hunt as Purple-haired doll (voice), Wallace Shawn as Rex (voice), John Ratzenberger as Hamm (voice), Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head (voice), Estelle Harris as Mrs. Potato Head (voice), John Morris as Andy (voice), Jodi Benson as Barbie (voice), Emily Hahn as Bonnie (voice), Laurie Metcalf as Andy's Mom (voice), Blake Clark as Slinky Dog (voice), Teddy Newton as Chatter Telephone (voice)