Sunday, July 11, 2010

Movie Review: Toy Story 3

Movie Information
Release Date: June 18, 2010 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)
Studio: Disney•Pixar
Director: Lee Unkrich
Screenwriter: Michael Arndt
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris, John Morris, Laurie Metcalf, R. Lee Ermey, Jodi Benson, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Timothy Dalton, Jeff Garlin, Bonnie Hunt, Whoopi Goldberg, Kristen Schaal, Blake Clark
Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Family
MPAA Rating: G
Official Website:

My Wonderfully Majestic Opinion
Pixar is without a doubt one of the most influential animation studios in America that is quickly shooting upwards as being the greatest provider of animated family films of all time. It has produced some of the most loved full length animated films to date such as Monsters Inc., The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Up! But as we all know, the foundational rock that Pixar sits upon are the lovable tales within the Toy Story franchise; with easily relatable characters such as the rip roaring cowboy Woody, the fearless Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear, The cowardly dinosaur Rex, the cynically hilarious spud Mr. Potato Head, and many others, this entire set was destined to be logged into the animation history books as one of the best. But what has changed since Pixar’s first full length animated feature film which debuted almost 15 years ago? Certainly with the premise that comes along with Toy Story, Pixar can only take it so far, right? The first film dove into the friendship of Woody and Buzz, and the second film gave us an enormous history lesson about Woody’s popular years, where else could a third film go?

As John Lasseter said when describing the world of toys, "when you're broken, you can be fixed; when you're lost, you can be found; when you're stolen you can be recovered. But there's no way to fix being outgrown by the child." Just like Up!, Toy Story 3 dives into more mature and thought provoking ideas that challenge our pre-conceived notions of holding on to something that means the world to us. It is the ultimate coming-of-age story where both sides must make selfless decisions in order to move on towards a brighter future.

The story begins showing Andy all grown up and neglecting his toys due to the changes that have occurred in his life outside of the home. As the toys continually produce failing results in bringing the 17 year old Andy back to them, they finally decide to look towards spending the rest of their lives as relics, unwanted by their owner. Through a series of mistakes, the toys end up in a day care center called “Sunny Side” where they befriend a very old toy by the name of Latso. (Short for Lots-o-Huggin Bear.) Much to the dismay of Woody who wishes for nothing more to get back to Andy’s house, the newly inducted toys decide they want to stay and forever be there for children and never be disregarded again. They soon discover that Sunny Side isn’t as bright and chipper as it’s made out to be, and that Latso has more up his pink, cottony sleeve than originally believed. It is, of course, up to the fearless Woody to save his friends and return to Andy before he leaves for college.

Sequels are a risky business. I wonder how many sequels have fallen flat on their face in comparison to those that have made it big. The result would probably not surprise you. This is the one of many true marks of a great film making company, to be able to produce sequels that are just as good or better than its predecessor is an achievement not too many film studios can revel in. Amongst the extreme thrills and jeopardizing moments that run amuck in this film, we are also given some of the most heart clenching moments I’ve seen in any of Pixar’s movies. While it may not equal the utter depressive state that Up! showed us, I do believe that this third installment of Toy Story to be the saddest one yet. Happiness will always come along with any Toy Story movie, but with number three, the happiness comes with a bitter-sweet sensation.

Pixar is the master at making inanimate objects seem real to us and allowing us to relate to the toys just as much as with a real person. The greatest challenge these toys could ever deal with is the fact that kids grow up, and how they deal with that and the others changes that surround them are at the heart of this film. This even transcends into Andy’s life, dealing with going to college, leaving home, deciding what to bring and what to leave behind, and deciding what to give up is all very overwhelming. As the film illustrates with Latso, some people have a lot of difficulty dealing with those changes and take their aggression out on the world because of it. Toy Story 3 asks us a very important question…How do we handle change and the fact that we must sometimes give up the things that we love? In that final scene where Andy gives his toys up to Bonnie, (whose cuteness is almost to the level of Boo from Monster Inc.) inside I felt completely torn up and stressed out over how hard this must have been for poor Andy! My lovely wife told me afterwards that she cried just as much during this scene as she did during that opening sequence in Up! But this needed to happen. Andy was finally able to move on as were the toys. Both sides were able to say goodbye to each other and give each other up. The story with Andy is over, and I couldn’t have asked for a more heart felt fond farewell than the one Pixar presented us.

But even with this wonderfully caring and heart warming story, there did trail along with it some rather annoying aspects that I wish had been scraped in the pre-production process. Even with being a very nostalgic person, I find that too much nostalgia can become long and drawn out. However, what I felt to be a little too cumbersome in this film was the humor. I understand the humor in having Ken model his clothing for Barbie, but I personally felt it to be out of place and unnecessary. Likewise, the Spanish mode of Buzz Lightyear might be the worst comedic decision that Pixar has ever come up with. I suspect this might have been an inside joke within the Toy Story 3 creative team that eventually became a reality. All in all, these two small annoyances truly can’t overshadow the shear genius of Mr. Potato Head’s incredibly hilarious ability to possess different types of foods!

The casting was great, as expected. Blake Clarke was the perfect choice as the replacement to the famous Jim Varney for the voice of Slinky Dog—I could only slightly tell the difference. But I’m fully convinced that Michael Keaton might be one of the greatest voice actors in history with his absolutely incredible performance as Ken. But the biggest surprise I had was when I discovered that Timothy Dalton voiced the very minor character, Mr. Prickle Pants!

My Awe-Struck Conclusion
I certainly hope that this third Toy Story film is the last. I’ve certainly enjoyed the ride very much being within the first generation of children that got to experience Toy Story when it first came to theaters. But the tale is done and no more are needed. I hope we can leave Andy just as he left his Toys. We all love him, but it is time to let go.

Rating 10 out of 10 Stars

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