It’s rare that a sequel can match its predecessor. It’s almost unheard of that a second sequel can come even close.

Then again, we’re talking about Pixar.

‘Toy Story 3’ has all the heart, all the humor and all the excitement of the first two films and builds to a conclusion that is both devastating
and beautiful.

Whereas ‘Toy Story 2’ picked up right where the original left off, the third installment takes place years later as Andy prepares to leave for
college.

As you would expect, the future of all our favorites toys are uncertain, with many all but resigned to the fact that their time has passed. Andy
has grown up and even his beloved cowboy Woody spends his days in the toy chest collecting dust.

The themes here have been at the heart of the entire series, but ‘Toy Story 3’ is less subtle in its execution of them. This turns out to be a
good thing, as we genuinely feel their desperation.  It treats this as a life or death situation.

To a toy, I suppose never being played with would be dying in a way.

On the heels of the absolutely brutal ‘Up,’ ‘Toy Story 3’ isn’t afraid to ratchet up the emotions, but it’s also utterly hilarious.  It’s this perfect
mixture of drama and comedy that makes ‘Toy Story 3’ so good.

It’s also as technically excellent as you would expect from Pixar, complete with gorgeous, stylized animation and first-rate sound design.

My only slight disappointment is that composer Randy Newman all but abandons the wonderful themes he created for both Woody and Buzz
in the second film.  But his score is still effective and good in its own right.

Lee Unkrich, long-time Pixar editor and occasional co-director, gets his first solo directing assignment here and does a superb job bringing
all the elements together.  The film has a lot of energy and when it does settle down, the emotional material is just as strongly presented.

Michael Arndt’s screenplay is excellent all-around, but it’s the final act that truly sets it apart from even its predecessors.  The bittersweet
final scenes are brilliantly conceived and written.  They remind us of just how much we love these characters.  There is finality here, as if
this may be the ultimate fate of the characters.  And if it is, they simply could not go out on a better, or more fitting, note.

At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if many roll their eyes at my endless gushing over another Pixar movie.  But ‘Toy Story 3’ is truly
brilliant.  There is simply no one that can match the superb filmmaking that Pixar puts out every single year.  ‘Toy Story 3’ doesn’t just
succeed, but excels in every single aspect of storytelling.  It is a superb film on its own and an absolutely perfect ending (?) to what can
now be considered one of the finest trilogies in history.

* * * *
(out of four)
TOY STORY 3
Directed by: Lee Unkrich

Written by: Michael Arndt

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned
Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton

Produced by: John Lasseter and Darla K. Anderson

Music by: Randy Newman

Released: June 18, 2010; 103 Minutes