Toys, Efron and homicidal exes (oh my)

‘Toy Story 3’ captures magic of predecessors

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I’m a self-proclaimed Disney fanatic, but that isn’t why I loved “Toy Story 3” – not the whole reason, anyway. The third installment of the classic childhood Pixar series is simply and irrevocably perfect.

The film begins many years after we last left the toys of Andy’s room in “Toy Story 2.” This time, Andy’s off to college and all the toys are worried about their fate, except faithful Woody, who is sure Andy would never throw them away.

The majority of the toys are mistakenly transported to a day care instead of the attic, where Andy originally intended to store them, and Woody, who Andy decided to take to college, decides to rescue them — but after meeting the day care’s leader, Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear, the misplaced toys decide they should stay with children who will reciprocate their love. However, the day care kids turn out to be nothing short of abusive, and the toys have to band together and escape back home before Andy leaves for college.

“Toy Story 3” is funny, exciting and well-written. If the ending, which is one of the most moving and bittersweet in all of cinematic history, doesn’t leave you bawling, you probably go around kicking puppies.

-Caroline Russomanno

‘St. Cloud’ stars dreamy cast

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“Charlie St. Cloud” is a romantic film tailored for the stereotypical Zac Efron audience. Efron’s chiseled features and brooding, dreamy demeanor are enough to satisfy smitten moviegoers, however, the

picturesque scenery and twisting plot make “Charlie St. Cloud” more than an average love story.

The film adaptation of Ben Sherwood’s novel “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud,” captures the verdant imagery of scenic Massachusetts as Charlie (Efron), a former high school superstar sailor, dwells in the aftermath of the tragic death of his brother, Sam. Putting his Stanford-bound future on hold, Charlie promises to remain loyal to his younger, deceased brother. In the process, Charlie ponders the meaning of his survival.

High school classmate and newfound love interest Tess Carroll catalyzes Charlie’s epiphany and frees him from his tormented state of mind. Tess, a sailor herself, is in need of dire help, and Charlie, caught between Sam’s world and reality, is the only one who can help her.

Although it possesses a classic ending, the falling action twists and turns just enough to make “Charlie St. Cloud” more than your ordinary teen romance.

-Ivy Hollander

Cult comic creates ‘endearing’ combo

Rock’n’ roll meets Nintendo in a coming-of-age love story? From a Gen-Y standpoint, you can’t really go wrong.

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“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” the film adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim” graphic novels, is a sprawling but spunky cart-ride through a tie-dyed and wonderfully distorted fantasy version of Montreal. The plot is so simple — Scott (Michael Cera), a man-boy bassist, falls in love with indie-queen Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and to win her over, bumbles his way into mortal combat with her seven evil exes.

Cera is characteristically pale, for better or worse. Luckily, he’s buttressed by the quick-witted filmmaking force of director Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”).

Wright surrounds the title character with a top-notch circle — Kieran Culkin as Pilgrim’s gay best-friend and droll mentor, Ellen Wong as a love-struck schoolgirl and the comic cadre of his diggable everyband, Sex Bob-omb.

Throw in a killer soundtrack from the likes of Beck and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, crank it up to 10, and you’ve got the most instantly endearing movie of the summer.

-Matt Huston