June 19 (Bloomberg) -- Andy’s leaving for college and his toys don’t know what to do. Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and the gang hope to go with him, but suspect they’ll end up in the attic or even the trash.
If you’ve had a kid or been a kid -- or just been a movie lover -- over the past 15 years, you’ll know what this means. “Toy Story 3” is another funny, heartwarming visit with a group of toys who take their jobs seriously.
Their jobs? As Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), the group’s chief executive, says at one of their “staff meetings”: “This job isn’t about being played with. It’s about being there for Andy.” If that means spending years in the attic gathering dust, so be it.
But that wouldn’t make much of a movie. Through a series of mixups, the toys end up being donated to the Sunnyside Daycare Center, whose rainbow palette hides a regime resembling Attica more than Sesame Street. Not for the children, who seem perfectly happy, but for the toys.
Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear, known as Lotso, is a plush pink dictator who rules Sunnyside with an iron fist and the Southern drawl of Ned Beatty. He throws Andy’s toys to the wolves -- or, more accurately, the toddlers -- who use cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack) as a paintbrush, separate the Potato Heads (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris) from their plug-in parts, and terrorize the toys with all the enthusiasm of extreme youth.
Director Lee Unkrich, screenwriter Michael Arndt and their team provide Pixar’s usual attention to detail. When Andy’s sister’s Barbie meets Ken (Michael Keaton) at Sunnyside, the Earth moves for both of them. To the sounds of “Dream Weaver,” Ken emerges from his Dream House in vintage turquoise shorts and a leopard-print shirt.
“Love your leg warmers,” he tells his perfect woman.
“Nice ascot,” she replies.
The pace speeds up once Woody and the gang decide to escape from Sunnyside. The only way out is through the garbage chute, and the toys wind up on a slow ride to the incinerator (which makes the film’s best use of 3-D) before reaching their well-deserved happy ending.
The filmmakers at Pixar Animation Studios find a way for Woody and Co. to “be there” for the grownup Andy while bringing joy to their new owner, an imaginative little girl. Like “The Incredibles” and “Up,” “Toy Story 3” speaks to adults and children about larger questions of love and loyalty while taking them on a rollicking adventure.
“Toy Story 3,” from Walt Disney Pictures, is playing across the U.S. Rating: **** (Muchnick)
Jonah Hex isn’t your typical Western gunslinger. He’s got a hideously scarred face, straps two Gatling guns to his saddle and talks to the dead.
Josh Brolin brings the sardonic comic-book antihero to life in “Jonah Hex,” but the rest of this strange Clint Eastwood/M. Night Shyamalan hybrid is pretty lifeless.
The troubled production lost its original co-directors and required some reshooting, which may explain its truncated 82-minute length. The jumbled final product, officially directed by Jimmy Hayward, looks like something stitched together by committee.
Brolin, who once called the script “awful,” is the film’s saving grace. He pulls off the macho swagger and deadpan one-liners of the 1870s bounty hunter with the ease of an old-fashioned Western star.
John Malkovich does his twisted evil shtick as Quentin Turnbull, the Confederate loyalist who murdered Hex’s family and mutilated him with a branding iron. Megan Fox supplies the sex appeal as a crafty prostitute who helps Hex seek revenge against Turnbull and stop him from destroying the country with a doomsday weapon.
Hex can bring the dead back to life, but he can’t save this movie.
“Jonah Hex,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, is playing across the U.S. Rating: ** (Warner)
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Laurie Muchnick and Rick Warner are critics for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are their own.)
Editors: Jeremy Gerard, Daniel Billy.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org.