Toy Story 3 is not only one of the season’s most anticipated movies, but the critical success of the first two toy-filled adventures give this sequel the unenviable, yet very enviable distinction of having to maintain what could be the most dominant streak of freshness in Tomatometer history. At the time of publication, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 have combined for 214 reviews, all of which have been fresh.
So while Woody and Buzz are no strangers to pressure and in fact, appear to do their best work under extreme circumstances, the film’s level of critical and fan expectation is unprecedented. In this third and possibly final installment, a misunderstanding between Andy and his mom sees the toys wind up at Sunnyside daycare, which initially seems like a joyous, utopian retirement where they’ll experience the excitement of being played with when Andy goes to college. However, the toys discover that this move came as a result of a misunderstanding and is not the vacation they thought it was. Before you take a trip into the walls of Sunnyside with the beloved cast, find out if the critics think 3 takes the series to infinity and beyond, and if the spotless Toy Story streak continues with this next installment.
Reviews began coming in last Thursday, getting 3 off to a perfect start after five reviews. The Hollywood Reporter’s Michael Rechtshaffen writes, “Playing with more darkly complex emotions than the previous two installments, incoming director Lee Unkrich and screenwriter Michael Arndt manage to add nice substance without noticeably weighing down the beloved characters.” He goes on to say that “In a season filled with underperformers, expect Toy Story 3 to finally rise to the occasion.”
Recognizing the challenge set by the franchise’s high bar, Variety’s Peter Debruge says, “Pixar has essentially set an impossible standard for itself, having previously delivered the rare sequel that improves on the original, then followed that up with a run of exceptional work.” He continues, “The visuals look gorgeous as ever, making classy use of 3D to enhance the drama, while staying true to the original aesthetic,” and that the film “is best when it’s being serious.”
Undoubtedly, one of the series’ strengths has been its ability to appeal to children and adults alike. Access Hollywood’s Scott Mantz writes, “Toy Story 3 raises the bar for how much a film can work on every level for both kids and adults (and adults who were kids when the first movie came out).”
Emanuel Levy gives the film a “B” rating overall, describing the sequel as “Nostalgic and old-fashioned in both the positive and negative sense of the word,” and continuing to say that “Toy Story 3 inevitably lacks the technical sophistication and thematic poignancy of such Pixar highlights as Wall-E and last year’s Up, two of the company’s very best productions.” And Box Office Magazine’s Pete Hammond says, “If you think this Summer has gotten off to a lukewarm start, you can count on Pixar (as usual) to come in and save the day with this wonderful and unforgettable movie experience.” Ultimately, Hammond says the film is “without question the movie to see this summer.”
As reviews continue to roll in all week, be sure to check back here and on Toy Story 3‘s page to keep up on the latest reviews and Tomatometer scores for one of this year’s most anticipated films.