'Toy Story 3' is dazzling, a sweet treat

For all of its CGI-animated talents, and they're considerable, Pixar (22 Oscars, four Golden Globes and three Grammys), the creator of the "Toy Story" franchise, has never forgotten that at the center of every project is a touching, compelling story.

Since 1995, the adventures of Woody (Tom Hanks) and his crew — Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Potato Heads (Don Rickles, Estelle Harris), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Rex (Wallace Shawn) — have captured the imaginations of moviegoers, both young and old.

Unexpectedly, "Toy Story 3" delivers not only a sweet tale, one that is wonderfully imagined, but also one that is nicely distressing. Visually, it's a treat, a smorgasbord of crisp colors and seamless animation. Put simply, it's brilliant moviemaking.

The core story is simple yet inspired, and immediately familiar: Andy is going away to college and is cleaning out his room. He opens up his toy box and ponders what to do with Woody and company, all deeply embedded in his childhood memories. Through a series of mistakes, the gang ends up at a day care center run by Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear, a seemingly nice old guy who soon proves to be something else.

And so begins a great adventure that is both comical and thrilling, touching on issues of loyalty, friendship, courage and seat-of-your-pants close calls.

What adults will understand is that "Toy Story 3" is a coming-of-age story. Andy has grown up and yet still feels connected to his toys. They are, in a word, "keepers." He can't simply put them out by the curb. Yet he knows that he has to leave them behind in the same way he must leave his childhood (and his mother) behind.

Kids will understand intuitively that much-loved toys are to be treasured, the equivalent of a favored blanket. A doll or bear or a Woody are there, through thick and thin, and all those moments that comprise a childhood.

These are wonderful themes and "Toy Story 3" may turn out to be the sweetest and best-told story of the summer.

The A-Team

The director of "The A-Team," Joe Carnahan, is reported to have said during an interview, "If you don't like tanks flying out of planes, then you don't like summer movies."

Actually, Carnahan would be right. Summer movies are about taking a ride, and if it happens to be in a tank at 20,000 feet, well, all to the good. Forget plot and character development, and all the trappings that come with fall-winter Oscar fare. Summer movies are all about the visceral, visual experience.

Blowing things up. Destruction of both private and government property. Planes, trains and guns. Lots of guns. Bad guys. Good guys. If it's summer, well, pump up the volume, put the pedal to the metal, bring on the rush of adrenalin-producing moments. Nobody wants to think too much; it dilutes the rush.

In Carnahan's "The A-Team (2010)," it's not only a tank dropping out of a plane, it's chronic and unremitting mayhem, of the best kind, of course, with fast cuts, tight shots, all feeling like "Mission Impossible" only with a crew of four: B.A. (Quinton Jackson); Hannibal (Liam Neeson); Murdock (Sharlto Copley); and Face (Bradley Cooper).

Summer is officially under way. Let the games begin. And know that "The A Team" is way more than one tank dropping out of one blown-up plane. Like a summer sausage, this movie is filled with good stuff. It's also the equivalent of a two-hour trailer. But that's not a criticism.

Share This Story