Toy Story 3 film review

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In a summer that has let me down immensely with regards to films, Toy Story 3 lifted me up. It is going to be very difficult to distill how incredible this film is into meaningful or insightful words and criticism. Pixar has absolutely unequivocally proven they are the masters of their craft. Not only has Pixar created a phenomenal end to a franchise that showed the world the power of computer animation to audiences worldwide, Pixar has crafted the first astonishing second sequel I’ve ever seen.

While I’m gushing about the film, I don’t want to spoil the experience. I also don’t want this to be a cheap little review like the other films I’ve recently gave half-assed reviews to. No, this film deserves not only my whole ass but everyone’s whole ass. This is a complex, beautiful piece of work rich with texture and adult themes.

Toy Story 3 is a continuation of a grand story arc. Toy Story showed us that our child’s play things come alive. They feel, they fight, they stick together. The movie introduces us the rules toys live by: be true to your owner and to each other. Understand that others may be better than you but always be better to yourself. (Woody’s jealousy regarding the arrival of one Buzz Lightyear comes to mind).

Toy Story 2 reminded us that while toys are ageless, children are not. Children grow up, lose interest, find out about the world less through their imaginations. Toy Story 2 is partially about coming to grips with aging and irrelevance and then embracing that eventuality by living each moment in the moment (Jessie’s fear of being forgotten and thrown away and then her acceptance that she can always start anew.)

Toy Story 3 brings the above films together. Now the reality is there. Andy, the imaginative little boy who so dearly loved all his toys has indeed grown up. While he has no interest in toys a part of him still is drawn to his two favorite toys (Buzz and Woody). College is calling him away and now the toys must accept fate: the attic or the trash heap. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen provide the poles by which the film is measured. Fantastic voice work from both of them. Woody still believes that he and his fellow toys can be of use to Andy at some point. Buzz isn’t so sure.

The toys wind up, through misunderstanding and the vagaries of the world, at Sunnyside Day Care. They are met with promises of a toy-heaven. They will never be forgotten and will never not be played with. New children will always come to play with them and they will not rot in attic or be lost to a garbage dump. The center of this promise is one Lotso, an old bear (voiced by Ned Beatty) who is later revealed to be a false prophet.

I won’t say any more about the plot. I promise you the reader it unfolds in logical and meaningful ways. I will say this, Toy Story 3 is the most adult and dark of all the films. It is truly a wonder how Pixar balances comedy, drama, and genuine emotion. You will be choked up. If you fail to get choked up in this film I advise you to look in a mirror and wonder at how you can be a human being.

Near the end of the film, Pixar brings you to the emotional edge and proves to the world they are masters of visual storytelling. The character reactions and emotions, with no dialogue, are beautifully rendered and displayed. If you have ever lost someone close, or fear losing someone close, you will be choked up. Just a master-stroke. My father told me that at 58 he never expected to tear up watching a computer-animated film about toys that live when no one watches them.

Toy Story 3 is about many things. On one track, it is about how Andy represents the march of time. How, as we grow up, we lose a piece of ourselves. We allow the world to beat us down, destroy our imaginations. At the end of the film, Andy has one final hoorah as a child and it’s beautiful. Toy Story 3 can also be viewed as a treatise on the importance of family and friends. The intrepid toys bicker, fight, and even at times seem to truly hate each other. Yet, when all the chips are down they realize that all of that is petty and small. They unite and overcome in the face of all odds. Your immediate family is what you were born into. Love those people, for they do not last forever. I know this well and this is why the film affected me so much.

There you have it. I have no other words to say. This is one 26 year old man’s opinion and interpretation. See the film and judge it yourself. Toy Story 3 is Pixar’s strongest film to date in my opinion. I have no higher praise than that considering how much I have loved all of their films over the years even with the slight missteps of Cars and A Bug’s Life. Pixar knows their craft.

I hold this work to be original thought. If I have used copyrighted material please email me. I will bring it down immediately. I merely mean for this blog to be a means to discuss and dissect my favorite things.

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