Review: “Toy Story 3”

June 22, 2010 at 7:25 am 3 comments

15-or-some years ago, Pixar animation studios released the first-ever CG-animated feature-length film, Toy Story.  It was a milestone in cinema history: an animated film produced entirely on computer, and helped usher in what some consider the ‘Golden Age of CG Animation’.  15 years later, Pixar, still the cream-of-the-crop of CG animation studios with many Oscars and various other accolades under its belt, released the third, and perhaps final, Toy Story film.

And, boy, is it a doozy.

What has amazed me over the past two years is how well Pixar opens their movies.  Wall-E is almost entirely a silent film for the first twenty minutes or so, a gutsy move for a mainstream Hollywood summer tentpole release.  Up dealt with the issue of death and grieving in a mature way, handled well enough that I was almost moved to tears within the first 15 minutes.  However, the opening in Toy Story 3, is not as attention grabbing.

That’s no to say the movie is bad.  When I said ‘doozy’, I meant it in the best way possible.  The film’s first and second acts are entertaining enough, but nothing to write home about.  The toys’ owner, Andy, is going off to college and is planning on putting some of his toys in the attic.  After a mix-up, they end up getting sent to a local daycare, where they meet the stuffed bear Lotso, the ‘elder toy’ of the facility’s toys.  Lotso introduces Buzz, Woody, and the gang to the other toys, and to their future: being played with by children almost every day for the rest of the toys’ lives.  Seems like heaven, but something is afoot.

The Escape from Alcatraz-esque sequence that dominates the second act is great fun.  However, the film was missing that emotional heart-string-tugging moment that Pixar seems to have mastered over the past few years.  I’ll try not to give anything away, but I’ll just say that Act II closes with possibly the most adult, mature way Pixar could’ve pulled off in a kids’ movie.  Similar to how The Dark Knight treated the theme and atmosphere of a Batman movie in a mature tone, Pixar raised the stakes for our miniature heroes to such a degree, I was wide-eyed with shock until the third act’s denouement hit.

This is truly a film that adults and kids will enjoy.  Yes, it’s among Pixar’s best (though I would say it still doesn’t top the narrative artistry in Wall-E’s first half), and, yes, it’s the best of the Toy Story films.  The third act and the ‘message’ of the film are kind of pressed in front of the audience a little too hard, but it doesn’t detract from the overall package.  Toy Story 3 is one of the summer’s highlights for me and a helluva farewell to characters that many of us have spent the better part of two decades growing up with.



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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Abby Stevens  |  June 22, 2010 at 8:09 am

    I cried so hard during the beginning of UP that we had to pause it! I have a feeling Toy Story 3 will be a bit of a tear-jerker for me. I teared up in Toy Story 2 when Jessie was outgrown by her owner during the flashbacks, and never wanted to watch it again, even at 14 years old, because it made me sad. I’m kind of dreading TS3, knowing it will likely make me sad, but it’s just one of those I’ve got to see.

    • 2. littleman00  |  June 22, 2010 at 9:29 am

      Totally not trying to ruin the movie, so maybe don’t read the rest of this reply until you watch the movie. It’ll also make a little more sense once you do, anyway.

      For me, the tear-jerker scene came later in the movie, and I was almost horrified that Pixar was pushing some boundaries a bit in a ‘Toy Story’ flick, only because I’ve lived with Woody and Co. since the fifth grade. But, the whole time I was watching the scene, I was like, “Do it, Pixar. Grow a pair and f***ing do it. Blow everyone’s minds, destroy the psyche of all the kids watching this movie, and just do it. End the movie RIGHT HERE.”

      I wasn’t disappointed when they didn’t, but I told my friends that saw it with me that Pixar would’ve earned a whole new degree of respect from me if they ended the way half of me wanted them to end it. I would’ve hated them and loved them at the same time.

    • 3. littleman00  |  June 22, 2010 at 9:31 am

      Oh, and I did see the movie in 3D. It looked great, so great that i forgot it was 3D after, like, 15 minutes. But, it doesn’t ‘add’ anything to the story, so I’d recommend skipping the third dimension on this one.


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