The third time is not always a charm for a movie series, but film critic Kenneth Turan says "Toy Store 3" is a sequel that matches the creativity of the original.

KENNETH TURAN: It's been more than a decade since the last film, and the inevitable has happened: Andy, the young boy who owns all the "Toy Story" characters, has gotten older, and is, in fact, heading for college. The toys, including Woody and Buzz Lightyear, are increasingly afraid of being left behind.

Through a series of mistakes and misadventures, Andy's toys end up in Sunnyside, a cheery-looking day care center where they are welcomed with open arms by the head toy, Lots-o-Huggin' Bear - Lotso for short.

(Soundbite of movie, "Toy Story 3")

Mr. NED BEATTY (Actor): (as Lotso): You'll never be outgrown or neglected, never abandoned or forgotten. No owners means no heartbreak.

TURAN: Despite these honeyed words, however, Sunnyside has a darker, more violent side, as Andy's toys discover all too soon.

(Soundbite of movie, "Toy Story 3")

Mr. TIM ALLEN (Actor): (as Buzz Lightyear): Uh, Rex...

(Soundbite of crashing, screaming)

TURAN: Toy Story 3 was directed by Lee Unkrich, who worked on both previous films, and written by Michael Arndt, an Oscar winner for "Little Miss Sunshine." Because of them, this film does the impossible: making us believe that toys are people, too - idiosyncratic individuals with lives and minds of their own.

"Toy Story 3" also a movie about movies: It's got references to John Ford Westerns, Hayao Miyazaki animation, and the kind of prison films where someone plays a harmonica on death row. How great that this tribute to old-fashioned toys becomes a love note to old-fashioned movies, as well.

AMOS: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the L.A. Times. We have reviews of a dark comedy, a darker thriller, two documentaries and more, all opening this week. It's all at our website:

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