"Toy Story 3" an inevitable box office smash

Tue Jun 8, 2010 10:50pm EDT
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By Michael Rechtshaffen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - After a decade-plus absence, the toys are back in town, and boy are they a sight for sore, 3D-beaten eyes.

"Toy Story 3" might not carry that eye-popping dazzle of 1995's milestone original that put Pixar on the map, but, in the absence of groundbreaking innovation, there's a greater depth that isn't solely attributable to those now-ubiquitous goofy glasses.

Playing with more darkly complex emotions than the previous two installments, incoming director Lee Unkrich (co-director of "Toy Story 2" and "Monsters, Inc.") and screenwriter Michael Arndt ("Little Miss Sunshine") manage to add nice substance without noticeably weighing down the beloved characters.

Speaking of which, in addition to all the familiar faces, there's no shortage of entertaining new arrivals to this particular playdate, most notably the seemingly gregarious Lotso (effectively voiced by Ned Beatty), a jumbo pink plush teddy with something bitter and unpleasant festering beneath his strawberry scent.

In a season filled with underperformers, expect "Toy Story 3" to rise to the occasion upon its June 18 release, handily extending Disney/Pixar's winning streak.

Shamelessly hitting empty-nesters where they live, the new adventure finds an all-grown-up Andy (John Morris) heading out for college and his mom (Laurie Metcalf) forcing him to first sort through his stuff.

After a perilous brush with the garbage truck, Woody, Buzz and company find themselves ensconced at a day-care center where they're at the mercy of terrifying preschoolers.

But there turns out to be an even more sinister force behind all the chaos, as personified by the aforementioned Lotso, a bear bearing a grudge bigger than his belly.   Continued...