Coming out 15 years after the first, "Toy Story 3" not only proved to be a hit among a new generation of kids, but brought in the young adults who grew up with Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody.
It is impossible not to have a fondness for the first two Pixar films, which, while taking animation to a new level, also told heartwarming, imaginative tales to which people of all ages could relate.
"Toy Story 3" begins with a rousing action sequence in the old West with all the old toys - Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), the Potato Heads (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Rex (Wallace Shawn) - taking part.
After a few minutes we realize the action is taking place in the imagination of Andy, the mostly glimpsed boy who is the owner of the toys. His vision, filled with impossible chases, laser beams and explosions worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, seems at odds with the innocent-looking playthings.
When the real action picks up, Andy is about to go off to college and his mother wants to know what to do with his toys. He has long stopped playing with them, but they are his emotional ties to childhood. He chooses Woody as a memento and agrees to send the rest to a day-care center.
Directed by Lee Unkrich from a script by Michael Arndt ("Little Miss Sunshine"), the film takes on new life when Andy's toys are abused in their new home.
"Face it, we're just trash," says Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty), a raggedy, bitter pink teddy bear. And while "Toy Story 3" has some dark themes - there are obvious parallels between the toys' fate and treatment of the elderly - it also remains light, fun and inventive.
The day-care center allows the filmmakers to come up with a host of new/old toys like Barbie, voiced by Jodi Benson, and the fashion-plate Ken (Michael Keaton). But the film, which is eye-popping, is so entertaining that you forget how smart it is.
As usual there are a number of DVD extras, depending on which version you buy, including games for film fans.
HBO's "The Pacific" is the second miniseries on World War II by the Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks team. "Band of Brothers," which ran in 2001, was one of the most popular series in recent times.
The face of the war in "The Pacific," though, is much different - sunny tropical isles, jungles, dysentery and malaria. While brutality is always a part of war, the fight against Japan was unexpected for many of the men who came from the cities and farmlands of America. The Japanese had a no-surrender policy, and the country was not a signatory of the Geneva Convention, which meant, overwhelmingly, the battles were fights to the death for U.S. soldiers and sailors.
The 10-part series, which follows Marines from Guadalcanal through mosquito-
infested Peleliu, Cape Gloucester and Okinawa, is as exquisitely and excruciatingly told as "Band of Brothers." It centers on three real-life members of the First Marine Division: Eugene B. Sledge and Robert Leckie, both privates, and Sgt. John Basilone, who earned the Medal of Honor on Guadalcanal. Leckie and Sledge, who both died in 2001, wrote memoirs that served as the basis of the script. Basilone, who toured with Hollywood stars to sell war bonds, died in combat.
In some ways "The Pacific" is harder to watch than "Band of Brothers," but as more and more of our veterans from this era pass on, the miniseries serves as a sharp reminder of what they sacrificed.
Keep in mind
Finally, "The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series" will be released as a 17-DVD box set by Shout! Factory on Tuesday. The Garry Shandling sitcom that ran for six seasons on HBO never had a laugh track, but never needed one. With Shandling, as the neurotic TV talk show host, and Jeffrey Tambor as his fawning insecure sidekick, Hank Kingsley, the series melded the faux personalities of the stars with guest stars, who often played nasty, petty or crazy versions of themselves, paving the way for later shows like "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
The box set includes numerous fun extras, and, in my opinion, is still the gold standard for TV comedies.
There are a number of new editions of older films, including "The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition," "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and the delightful "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" with Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes. By the way, the 1968 feature film boasts a script by famed children's author Roald Dahl and Ken Hughes and songs by the Sherman brothers ("Mary Poppins"). It's loosely based on a novel by James Bond creator Ian Fleming.
"Let's Spend the Night Together" is a live concert film, documenting the Rolling Stones' 1981 North American tour. It was directed by Hal Ashby ("Harold and Maude"), and while strangely shot at times, it captures the band while still at their best and rockingest.