REVIEW: Toy Story 3

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: Toy Story 3 is the best movie I’ve seen in a long time, and is possibly the best in the trilogy.

We’ve all known for years that Pixar made good movies. But with this, their eleventh release in fifteen years I think it’s perhaps not uncalled for to declare them one of if not the most successful film company of all time. Eleven films may not seem like much, but when you consider that not one of them has performed poorly (Finding Nemo alone has raked in over eight hundred million dollars) and that they pretty much pioneered the computer-animated movie, and then pile on top of that their twenty-four Academy Awards, six Golden Globes, and three Grammys, you realize how incredible this studio is. I can say with all certainty at this point that if Pixar makes a movie, I will indefinitely be there to see it… multiple times.

But if I could now remove my lips from Pixar’s collective ass (they’re not paying me, I swear), maybe I could get around to telling you about this particular theatrical triumph.

Toy Story 3 makes you fall in love with it from literally the first few seconds of the film. With two successful installments before this one, it’s one of those rare moments where you feel like standing up and cheering when you see the familiar characters make their entrance, and oh what an entrance they make. I won’t say too much, because I really do believe that this movie is too special for me to say much of anything about any one particular moment; you honestly do need to see it for yourself. And while that will make my job of demonstrating my love of it a bit harder, I’ll do my best. Just for you. Feel grateful, darnit.

“Back in Black” seems simultaneously very appropriate and very out of place

While the first movie dealt with themes such as jealousy and friendship, and the second movie was a lesson in self-worth with a not-so-subtle jab at the collectible toy market, the third film is a story of loyalty and enduring love. Andy has grown up, and he’s leaving for college in a matter of days. With most of his old toys gone, those that remain are faced with a crisis: will they earn the attention of their owner again, be banished to the attic, or cast out as trash? As the toys grapple with their emotions over their uncertain fate, they are unceremoniously thrust into the first plot point, which sees them donated to a local daycare center, where everyone but Woody believes they can make a new life for themselves.

Of course, if it were as simple as that, we wouldn’t have a movie, now would we? Of course, the daycare center soon sheds its joyful façade and is revealed for the dystopia that it is. Now, younger children probably won’t get the same kind of fulfillment that myself and my friends got from this section, but from the time they enter the daycare the entire thing began to feel very much like The Great Escape, with a purple fuzzy bear (who reminds me very much of a conglomeration of the pigs from George Orwell’s Animal Farm) serving as the warden. It’s another prime example of how Pixar is able to make a children’s movie that appeals just as much to adults. If I may reiterate: these people are bloody brilliant.

However, this also presents what might be my only gripe with the movie, and it wasn’t even one that would affect me personally. The fact is, I’m not sure that I would show kids Toy Story 3 at the same age I would show them Toy Story 1 or even Toy Story 2. While it is still acceptable on the whole for children, there are definitely a few segments that give the film a decidedly darker feel than its predecessors. Yes, perhaps Sid and his army of mangled and tortured toys from the first movie was a bit bizarre, but several scenes in this movie, including one with a very, VERY disturbing cymbal-monkey (I can’t make this stuff up) perhaps would have been a bit extreme for me when I was four.

Holy crap, I was four when Toy Story came out?

Proof that you can build an ensemble cast out of CG characters

But apart from that, I honestly can’t think of much that I didn’t like about this movie. Oh, I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff that I could pick apart if I tried hard enough, but this is a kid’s movie, so it doesn’t really need to hold up to the same standards as films aimed at thoroughly-educated adults. It just happens to be a fantastic bonus that it does. There was one scene in particular (which I still can’t talk about to you that haven’t seen it and its driving me a little bit crazy) where I felt deeply moved by the actions of the characters onscreen. This was immediately followed by a moment where myself and the rest of the theater felt compelled to actually break into applause. I have not done this since I saw Return of the King. Just think about that for a moment. This movie made us respond to it in a manner that can be compared to the Lord of the Rings movies: which pretty much swept the Academy Awards at the time of their release. And to badly paraphrase Woody: THESE! ARE! JUST! TOYS!

Attention Hollywood: you now have to compete with children’s entertainment to gain my adoration. I don’t know if that’s a testament to Pixar’s genius, or a horrible insult to the rest of the industry. Probably a bit of both.

At any rate, there is really no excuse not to see this movie. You can watch it in 3D if you want, but while it’s probably the best use of it I’ve seen (simply using it for depth of field techniques and not cheesy “jump out of screen at face” kind of garbage) it’s not really necessary. But however you choose to view it, you will walk away satisfied.

Unless you have no soul.

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