The Oscars “Best Picture” candidates: Toy Story 3

Beginning a film with an epic battle between a plastic piggy bank (John Ratzenberger), sporting the pseudonym “Evil Dr. Pork Chop,” and a cowboy-space- ranger-duo makes the summer’s top sensation seem rather conspicuous next to the nine other solemn tales nominated for the 2011 Best Picture Oscar. However, Toy Story 3 captures the heart of American Filmmaking, as it transforms an original tale of whimsical adventures and crazy shenanigans into an endearing story about the coming of age.

The film truly kicks off when Andy’s (John Morris) box of childhood toys accidently ends up at Sunnyside Daycare. Woody (Tom Hanks) and the Gang split, when Woody wishes to return home to accompany his beloved owner Andy on his journey to college, while the rest of the gang desires a future of play time, all the time. Unfortunately, the alpha of Sunnyside—aka Lotso (Ned Beatty) the strawberry scented teddy-bear—and his macho sidekicks—Ken (Michael Keaton) and Big Baby—are not as charming as they appear, regarding their current despotism upon all of Sunnyside.

Director Lee Unkrich brilliantly creates comedy in the midst of the Sunnyside chaos, appealing to both young children and adults. Though clearly predictable, Ken and Barbie’s (Jodi Benson) cloyingly on-again-off-again romance draws chuckle after chuckle, as parents get a kick out of Barbie’s reference to Ken’s “nice ascot,” and children fall into hysterics as Ken pleads with Barbie to spare his Nehru from “The Groovy Formal Collection.”

However fantastic the original characters were, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Unkrich have magnificently created and re-created jovial personalities to light up the screen. Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), or better known as “Baron von Shush,” brings a serious attitude to the tea party improve as he articulates his English accent, while modeling a “Germanic-styled lederhosen.” Lotso, the bear credited to give “Lots of Hugs,” remains another ingenious creation. Who knew that pure evil could emanate from a magenta bear carrying the smell of sweet strawberries?  But what the story writers of the film do so exceptionally well remains their clever re-creation of Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). Apparently, outer space wasn’t quite the foreign adventure, so instead Buzz transforms into a modern Zorro as he saves his amigos and dexterously salsas to the flamenco.

Despite all of its goofy facets, the film still warrants the need of a tissue box, when the film concludes with its true message: the childhood joys we all cherish must eventually meet their ends, but they will always maintain a special place in our hearts. Woody’s “So long Partner,” as Andy’s car drives off toward the sunset, is a line that finds a place in all of our heart, reflecting the last day we played with our stuffed animals or Barbies in a world of childhood innocence.

Toy Story 3 may not create the same hero as The King Speech’s King George VI, the same champion as The Fighter’s Micky Ward, or the same Social Network as Mark Zuckerberg; but only Toy Story 3 can take 60 seconds to transform an audience’s tears of reminiscence to tears of laughter, as the credits roll with “tiene un amigo en mi” and the aliens (Jeff Pidgeon) performance of Romeo and Juliet.