Pixar's Toy Story 3 is set to be the biggest family film release of the year, and last week Disney Interactive Studios took ParentDish to the US and treated us to a special preview screening.
It's ten years since Toy Story 2, and the characters have now grown up, with Andy about to set off for college. Amazingly he still has his favourite toys, including Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Andy's mum is clearly way more tolerant than me, I would have bunged that lot out to Freecycle years ago.
The toys get donated to a nursery with such a low staff-to-child ratio that you may wonder why Ofsted haven't been alerted. Toddlers run wild, and the toys wish they were back in Andy's bedroom.
So, is it worth watching the third instalment in this story?
In a word: Yes
As parents we've all had that experience of sitting through animated films that are a bit dull, where it's only the popcorn that's keeping you awake. But Toy Story 3 is one of those rare films that all the family can enjoy equally – in fact, it's so good that you'll be the one dragging your kids along to see it.
It opens with a chase sequence promising "Death by monkeys!", and the pace doesn't really let up from there. There is some peril in a few scenes, but I think this will thrill rather than frighten your family. Pre-school children may be confused by a section where Buzz goes Spanish, and subtitles are used, but this is pretty brief and I think they'll get the gist even if they can't read the words.
All the old favourites feature, including Mr and Mrs Potato Head, Slinky the Dog and Barbie. New characters you'll love include Barbie's man Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton) and Mr Pricklepants – a thespian hedgehog in lederhosen, voiced by former James Bond and Doctor Who star Timothy Dalton.
It's shown in 3D, but the three-dimensional-ness is fairly subtle – you get a richly textured world, rather than objects rushing at you out of the screen.
The film pulls on the heartstrings, and had grown men around me weeping. But it'll also have you roaring with laughter. Just wait until Mr Potato Head loses his body and has to improvise with foodstuffs instead.
Toy Story 3 has just opened in America and is due to open in the UK on 21st July. Here's a little snippet to keep you going til then:
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