Film (with rating): Toy Story 3 (G)
Jesse and the rest of the Toy Story gang are mistakenly delivered to a daycare
center instead of the attic right before Andy leaves for college. It’s up to
Woody to convince the other toys that they weren’t abandoned and that they
should return home.
Rarely do sequels surpass their predecessors, and even more rare is a third
film of a trilogy that jumps to the top of the heap. Yet “Toy Story
3″ did just that with gusto. It is the best of all three
films in the franchise by far. I mean, how can it not be fantastic when it made
grown men and women alike cry in the middle of a movie theater and then dig
through their long-forgotten box of childhood swag in the garage in search of
their own special toys?
Even if I saw this film without the benefits of
pregnancy-induced hormones, I would have still needed numerous Kleenex. The
ending is that good.
With Pixar at the helm, viewers knew they were in for a
visual treat. “Toy Story 3″ looks gorgeous, even without the 3-D
element seen on the big screen. But even more importantly, the movie is so
filled with meaningful, clever dialog and an amazing, satisfying plot, adults
and children both walk away touched and entertained.
It’s a complete mystery to
me how the geniuses behind this franchise keep hitting home runs without once
resorting to a tired, clichd character arc, plot twist or theme. The new
characters introduced, like Lotso, and subplots (Ken and Barbie are beyond
hysterical) illustrate how much effort and care went into the making of
“Toy Story 3.” No one, and I mean no one, phoned this one in.
The voice cast is another perk; the usual suspects all came
back, and more were added to the party. We’ve got Tom Hanks as Woody, Tim Allen
as Buzz, Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head and Michael Keaton as Ken. Not a single
miscast. Even John Morris, the original voice of Andy throughout the first two
films, is back once again. Keeping voices the same only added more strength to
this Herculean franchise.
The message of “Toy Story 3″ was loud and clear,
yet so gently and beautifully woven into the film it didn’t come across preachy
or forced. Time marches forward. Kids grow up. Mortality is unavoidable. Life
happens. And yet, life goes on. And change can be embraced, not feared.
Who knew I could find such huge life lessons at the foot of
a plastic space ranger and a spaghetti-thin cowboy?
Dry your eyes and watch the “Day & Night” theatrical short.
What to serve for dinner: “Pizza Planet” is Andy’s favorite
restaurant, so serve up some Toy Story Veggie Pizza Planets for dinner. End
with some Green Alien Cupcakes (all courtesy of www.family.go.com/disney).
Toy Story Pizza Planets
Flour, for your work surface
Store-bought pizza dough (approximately 14 oz.)
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup pesto, store-bought or from your favorite recipe
1/4 cup cooked broccoli florets, chopped
1 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese
Grated Parmesan cheese
Pizza sauce, for dipping (optional)
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll, or
stretch, into a rectangle about 1/4″ thick. In a small bowl combine
ricotta and pesto. Spread the ricotta-pesto mixture over the surface of the
dough and sprinkle with the cooked, chopped, broccoli florets. Top with
shredded mozzarella. Roll the dough lengthwise, into a log. Cut your pizza log
into 1″ rolls. Kitchen shears work best for this.
Place cut rolls 2″ apart on a parchment-lined baking
sheet. Sprinkle the tops with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for
12-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the dough is lightly browned.
Serve your planets warm, with pizza sauce for dipping.
Green Alien Cupcakes
Cupcakes, baked from your favorite recipe
White frosting, store-bought or from your favorite recipe
Neon green food coloring
Mint-flavored chewable candies (found packaged in rolls)
Green apple sour belts
Green apple sour straws, cut into 2″ pieces
Black decorator gel icing
Kitchen shears, or a small leaf shaped fondant cutter
First, mix up a batch of alien green icing by adding few
drops of neon green food coloring to your favorite white icing. Prepare your
aliens’ ears. Cut ears, shaped like teardrops, from green apple belts. A pair
of kitchen shears works well, or use a small leaf shaped fondant cutter. You
will need two ears for each cupcake. Frost cupcakes and insert a 2″ sour
straw antenna. Press your ears into the sides of the cupcake.
Line up three mint-flavored, chewable candies as eyes, and
dot with black gel icing for pupils. Give your aliens an awed expression by
drawing on a circle for a mouth with black gel icing.
What to talk about over dinner: Why was this “Toy Story” so much better
than the other two? Or do you disagree? Who is your favorite character? Least
favorite? Why? What was your favorite childhood toy? Did you have your own
Woody? Why did you love that toy so much? What happened to it? Is it hard for
you to part with childhood treasures, or do you keep everything? Where are they
now? Did you pass any along to your kids? What toys did your children like, or
do they like now? Do their choices surprise you?