By Anna

The gang is back in indistinguishable fashion, with extraordinary imaginations and a continual knack for finding value in each other, but this time, they’re headed off to day-care.

Toy Story spooked me as a kid, sadistic-neighborhood-toy-torturer Sid and all, but I couldn’t not watch it because I loved the gang’s dynamic and they did beat out evil in the end. Now, it’s the same ol’ group of toys, but this time, no Andy, since he’s headed off to college (Am I really that old?).

As Andy packs up his room, nostalgia sets in for the toys, and us, as they remember all the fun they had over the years. But they don’t think Andy wants them anymore because Andy’s mom mistakenly donates them to Sunnyside daycare, which isn’t sunny if you’re a toy for toddlers. We cringe and laugh as the toys find themselves fighting against paint and slobber, without Woody or Buzz.

The problem with this great summer success is that there are more obstacles than normal for the gang, and even I got a little restless. It felt like the creators didn’t want it to end with curtain call after curtain call of near death experiences for the toys, creating darker than normal situations.

The 6-year-old sitting behind me said with 30 minutes left “Is it over yet?” And I wondered the same thing. At one hour 49 minutes it’s no kid length movie, but it’s a great story nevertheless and if you’re a fan of the previous two you won’t be disappointed. The “Night & Day” short prefacing the movie is worth the 3D price if you’re a huge fan of Pixar shorts like I am. (How Pixar successfully comments on race relations in five minutes beats me, but it’s brilliant.)

The film noir allusions are also a hilarious catch for movie lovers: the sad clown, that nothing is what it seems, and the role of Chatter Telephone. The creators also didn’t miss a toy from my childhood (including troll dolls and farm sounds) and kept adults more engaged than kids, which works since a lot of us adults were kids when the first one came to theaters.

It was the darkest of the Toy’s stories, but the most engaging for adults with just as many hilarious one-liners.

After a devastating crop of summer films thus far it’s time to treat yourself and visit Ken (Michael Keaton) and Barbie’s Dream House, meet some new toys and have your imagination challenged.

Quick Reviews from only one other movie I saw this week:

The Messenger

This next decade could be Ben Foster’s. Though he gave excellent performances in 3:10 to Yuma, Six Feet Under and The Messenger, he hasn’t hit his peak and if he plays his cards right, he will. He’s a smart actor and his role alongside Woody Harrelson in The Messenger is no ruse. It’s a great film, taking its time to develop its characters. My only warning: be in the mood for a slow movie because it is far from the stereotypical war film.