THOUGH I HAD NOT SEEN THEM for years, my memories of them were just as vivid today as they were back then. I was downsizing my living space and came upon a couple of shelves in the basement that were filled with toys. Some were in their original packaging while others were sealed in plastic bags or bins. They brought a smile to my face as I had to stop my packing and look at each one. There was a boxed game where the players had to pick 5 letters and 5 categories. Writing each one down on a mini-spreadsheet, letters going vertically down and categories across horizontally, the players would be timed as they had to fill in as many spaces as they could within the time frame. This was my favorite game outside of word games. There was a toy on the shelf that I remember getting at the same time as a cousin of mine. It was a moving track, like a miniature moving sidewalk, where I would have to steer a magnetic car through obstacles that would pop up on the revolving track. Each toy I took off the shelf provided me a fond memory; I was not sure if I could part with any of them. IT IS FUNNY HOW FOR MANY of us a toy or stuffed animal can have an influence on our life’s path. I remember playing this word game with a relative, where there was a group of dice that had letters instead of numbers on them. They would be shaken around inside a plastic cube until they settled into spaces set out like a tick tack toe graph. We would turn the timer over to start, then come up with as many words as we could using the letters showing; but, having to only connect the letters down or up and side to side, nothing diagonal. It was this early game that started my love of reading and writing. There was also a babysitter of mine who each time she sat for me would bring me a stuffed animal. I am convinced that menagerie started my affection and first educational direction for animals. Let me say at one time I had almost 2 dozen stuffed animals sleeping with me; I could barely move in the bed. Now it has been many years since I played with toys and stuffed animals; but I must tell you, I was pleasantly surprised seeing the familiar characters again in this latest installment of the animated, adventure franchise. WITH A COUPLE OF DISCARDED ITEMS and a little imagination Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw (American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp), created a new toy for herself. The problem was convincing this new addition that he belonged in her toy collection; something Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks (The Post, Sully), thought he could fix. With Tim Allen (3 Geezers!, Last Man Standing-TV) voicing Buzz Lightyear, Tony Hale (Stranger than Fiction, American Ultra ) voicing Forky and Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Pretty in Pink) voicing Bo Peep; this film was one of the few sequels I have seen that maintained the high standards of its previous movies. The animation was outstanding, and the humor was appropriate and relevant for both children and adults. Also, the story was thoughtful and cleverly laid out to take adult type themes and present them in such a way that was easy for kids to digest. I experienced a variety of feelings from excitement to tension to love; each expertly fitted into the script without overpowering one another. The movie studio did a wonderful job in keeping the integrity intact for this beloved film franchise. I may never get rid of my toys now. There were 4 extra scenes during the 1sthalf of the credits.
3 ½ stars
I always know what to expect whenever I stop at one of these places. The only time I go to one is when I am out of town on vacation. You see when I am exploring a new area I do not want to spend time sitting down at a restaurant, waiting for someone to take my order and then having to wait further for my food to come to my table. This is why I will quickly grab something at a fast food establishment. I save eating at a local restaurant for dinner time. The only time I partake in fast food is when I am traveling out of state. If I have planned my day full of activities and sightseeing, I do not want to spend a lot of time taking in food. To me food is just fuel to continue my pace for the afternoon. The reason I eat fast food is because no matter where I am the meal is reliable; there are no surprises, nor do I have to think about how my body is going to react to something foreign. However, based on recent news there are reasons to worry about certain foods we eat these days. The meal is quick and adequate; I do not have to devote any thought to it, just consume and get out of the place. I know actually what to expect whenever I venture into such restaurants. I see my logic can be applied to other areas of interest, such as movie franchises. AFRAID Dave, played by Jason Lee (Chasing Amy, My Name is Earl-TV), was going to leave them once he proposed to Samantha, played by Kimberly Williams (Father of the Bride franchise, We are Marshall), Alvin and his brothers decided to follow Dave to Miami to stop the proposal. From the very beginning of this film I knew what to expect from the story. There was going to be the same type of humor, similar big song and dance numbers and an antagonist; in this case it was Tony Hale (Stranger Than Fiction, The Heat) as Agent Suggs. With the addition of Josh Green (Fair Haven, The Girl in the Book) as Miles, the story was set and off went the chipmunks. There was essentially nothing new to this latest installment of the franchise. Little children should still enjoy it though there were a couple of scenes that may not be appropriate for them. Except for one good dance number I was bored through a majority of this picture. I found it pretty predictable for the most part, besides the repetitive use of some sight gags. It seems to me this franchise is just following the same formula setup from the past films; there was nothing new or different. As long as the viewer knows what to expect once they get into the theater, I guess this movie serves some kind of a purpose.
1 2/3 stars