It’s true. Most sequels suck. A great franchise is a rare breed. Lucky for us that doesn’t apply to Pixar! Not yet anyway. Toy Story 3 is hitting theaters and if you’re a true Woody/Buzz Lightyear fan (like many have been since 1995), you might have found yourself snooping around for some early buzz on Pixar’s first franchise.

This time around, the playground days are over for Andy. As he packs up for college, Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang are headed to the day-care center, or “prison,” as director Lee Unkrich compared it to in an interview. With just the plot in mind, Toy Story sounds more like a toy nightmare, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s one hell of a nightmare.

In a recent interview with Unkrick, he told us a little more about the tone of the film…

Unkrick: I don’t think of it as a dark film, I think of it as a well rounded film that has a lot of experiences for the audience in it. There are some moments of emotional intensity in the film, but in my mind we where trying to be truthful to these characters and the journey that they were on.

Voice actress Jodi Benson, Barbie, found herself a lot more emotional in the last film than in the previous two…

Benson: I could relate to it as a parent, and I was relating to it as a grown adult. I had a lot more going emotionally and I really cried at the end. I didn’t in one or two.”

Now, before you even start to get a déjà-vu of what happened when Where the Wild Things Are (many put the film away as being too dark for children) hit theaters last year, let’s recall the previous two films which dealt with quite a bit of “mature” concepts for children and adults. Not that the characters are older it’s only natural that their situations reflect their circumstances.

During the interview, Unkrick reminds us that the best movies make us feel something, whether it’s joy or fear. As ScreenCrave mentioned in its review for the film

“In the other movies, you knew everyone would be back in the comfort of Andy’s room after their adventure. From the very beginning of this movie, there is this foreboding feeling and you realize that you don’t know how it’s going to end. Pixar has proven that they know how to tackle the themes of growing up and death quite well. Toy Story 3 is definitely no exception.”

There’s no doubt, this film is different and although it’s “safe” for kids, it’s not a safe film by any means. Another risk the film-makers took was making  this film into IMAX 3D and converting the first two. Stereoscopic supervisor, Bob Whitehill, or as he calls himself, “the 3D guy,” was very careful with the whole 3D process:

Whitehill: We worked really hard to not interfere with the movie, to make it a really comfortable experience for our viewers. [The creators] did such an amazing job at creating this great movie that the last thing we want to do in 3D is put a layer on top of that… We concentrated in making it comfortable. We wanted people to feel rewarded by that experience.

It’s been said before, but it does seem like just yesterday when we saw Woody and Buzz Lightyear meet in Andy’s room. Many are wondering if this be the last Toy Story? Jeff Garlin doesn’t seem to think so…

Garlin: [Toy Story 3] is fantastic and moving and great. This is not going to be it. It will come at some point. maybe.”

Listen to the full roundtable interview with the films director Lee Unkrich and and producer Darla K. Anderson below…

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For those of you who have seen Toy Story 3, what did you think about the film?

Did you think that Toy Story 3 was too too mature for kids?

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