I took my nephew to see Toy Story 2 back in 1999. He was three years old, and loved the movie (as much as a three-year-old can. He was a tad squirmy back then but the movie definitely resonated with him, and me.) Fast-forward ELEVEN (!!) years, and we returned to the same theater for Toy Story 3. And thank goodness, this Pixar sequel did not disappoint. Like the original Toy Story, and its first sequel Toy Story 2Toy Story 3 is more than just a good animated movie. It’s a good movie period. That’s because it works on so many levels, for kids and adults, with a great ensemble cast, a relatable story, humor, poignancy, action.

My 10-year-old niece was not as enamored by the flick as my now-14-year-old nephew, but I suspect that’s because my nephew has grown up somewhat parallel to TS3’s main ‘human’ character, Andy.

Toy Story 3 opens with Andy clearing out his room as he gets ready to leave for college. He decides to hold onto his favorite toy, Woody, and put the rest of the toys in the attic. But through a series of mishaps, all the toys end up at a local daycare center that sorta resembles the Island of Misfit Toddlers and Toys. At first, Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, Rex, Hamm the Piggy Bank, etc. have high hopes for their new digs — after all, they just want to be played with. But things take a nasty turn when some other toys – led by a bear that smells like strawberries- imprison Andy’s toys and turn Buzz against his friends by setting him back to ‘demo’ mode. Sounds crazy, but it’s all quite clever.

Ultimately, the toys must work together to escape the daycare center and find their way back to Andy’s house before he heads off to school. The soundtrack hits all the right notes. And a sassy Barbie and metrosexual Ken are definite scene-stealers.

Bottom line: Toy Story 3 is a great choice for a family movie outing (especially if you’ve seen 1 and 2 in theaters or on TV/DVD). Don’t feel compelled to see this one in 3-D, however. It doesn’t really add anything to the experience. But definitely stay through the credits. There’s a fun little ‘extra’ that’s worth watching as you verify all the famous voices that go with the various characters, from Tom Hanks’ Woody and Tim Allen’s Buzz Lightyear to Ned Beatty’s deliciously-evil Lotso bear.

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