REVIEW: Toy Story 3

17 06 2010

Pixar and “Toy Story” have really come to define the cinematic landscape for animation in my lifetime.  When I was 3 years old in 1995, they rolled out the first full-length animated film made entirely with computers.  At the time, it was an anomaly.  Now, I can hardly imagine a world where every movie isn’t made with computers.

In some ways, you could even say I’ve grown up with “Toy Story.”  It’s a movie whose characters I have grown very attached to, and not just on the screen.  I had countless “Toy Story” action figures and toys in my childhood, from the hand puppet Rex and Hammy to the stuffed Woody to the Buzz Lightyear transformer.  Like any good toy does, they provided countless hours of entertainment and stimulation for my imagination.

So needless to say, I had the highest of expectations for Pixar to once again create not just a movie but another authentic piece of childhood bliss enjoyable for kids and kids at heart.  The “Toy Story” crew has been up in the attic for 11 years, and they could have easily gathered some dust over time.  But as soon as they appear on screen, they win you over with a charm that feels fresh out of the box.  Pixar preserved them all in near mint condition, and “Toy Story 3” quickly reminds you how easy it is to fall in love all over again with these plastic pals.

Pixar once again demonstrates their incredible capacity for creativity by keeping the story king and fully fleshing out characters that we can really care about.  Their simple formula has worked flawlessly for 15 years and has never gotten rusty.  But the Pixar magic isn’t limited to the screen.  The spirit of the movie spreads through the theater, inspiring a new generation of “Toy Story” fans and reminding all of the untold power imagination can have.

Much like childhood, “Toy Story 3” simply passes much too quickly.  It’s fast-paced fun as Andy’s toys head to Sunnyside Day Care, a decidedly better fate than the trash.  Woody believes their role as Andy’s toys should be to remain there to help him in all ways possible, even if that means waiting for his children.  But Buzz, Jessie, and the rest of the gang want to experience the joy of being played with again.  Woody stays true to Andy, but the others all seek the love of new children at Sunnyside.

Initially, all is good with their new home.  There are children aplenty and a whole host of other toys, from the fashion-minded Ken to the eerily silent Big Baby.  However, they find that their warm welcome is merely a facade; the adorable Lotso is actually a bitter tyrant, ruling the daycare like a fluffy pink Kim Jong-Il.  He has created a social pyramid where the new toys are stuck with children too young to handle them with respect or dignity.  Frustration leads to a giant prison break, an exciting and different direction for a Pixar movie that still packs a lot of fun.

As the movie chugged towards an ending, I realized that I hadn’t just grown up with the toys.  I’ve grown up with Andy, too.  I was too young to remember seeing the first movie, but I was around Andy’s age at the release of the second installment.  And as Andy prepares to move away from home and go to college in “Toy Story 3,” I am only one year behind, getting ready to make the decisions that will push me farther away from home and the innocence of my childhood.  The movie is especially resonant for the generation of children that grew up with the “Toy Story” movies, allowing us to reminisce about the times where we didn’t need laptops or iPods to entertain us.  Once, it only took a few toys and an unbounded imagination to make us happy, and “Toy Story 3” gives us a window back into the simpler times of our youth.  It’s a feeling both joyous and sad, but overall, it’s beautiful.

There’s no other word to describe the ending than perfect.  It’s absolutely Pixar’s masterstroke, both divinely sensitive and genuinely touching.  They completely understood what “Toy Story” has meant to moviegoers.  Everything isn’t tied up, so there’s definitely the possibility of more movies.  Yet it’s a satisfying end that reminds us of the power of the toy and their perpetual ability to connect generations.

Pixar has created more than just the story of toys with these movies.  They have found a live, beating heart inside the plastic and the stuffing.  And with this heart, they have created a toy in itself, something to bring out the child in all of us.  I’ve had so many great adventures with the “Toy Story” crew.  Like a great toy, I know that the characters and the movies will always be there for me.  I can’t wait to watch them with my kids and share in the memories and the imagination.  A



7 responses

17 06 2010

I am so incredibly jealous that you’ve seen this movie, and I won’t for some time (no desire to fight families to get into the theater to watch it this week, or the next). So much so that I’ve tagged you in another one of those memes that’s going around.

Great review though, sort of skimmed to avoid any possible spoilers, but it sounds like Pixar is going to continue their trek into emotional/comedy family films.

17 06 2010

This movie is too good to wait for – I’ll only excuse you if you label yourself “claustrophobic” or “misanthropic.”

And just a general note to anyone, I don’t think I put in any spoilers in the review. It depends on your definition, but I didn’t give away major plot points, only sang their praises.

17 06 2010

I’m not going to read this before I see the film, Marsh… just wanted to tell you that I got MEME’d and I’m passing it to you tomorrow on my site. Sorry! 🙂

17 06 2010

I want to see this movie so bad!! I loved the first two which basically summed up my child hood, and this will be like bringing back the throwbacks! Cannot wait!

18 06 2010
Whitney Kolb

Well written, Marshall, as always! I can’t wait to see it either. Your review captured the sentiment I feel towards the movie, and actually brought tears to my eyes. Thank you!

18 06 2010

Yet another rave review. Can’t wait to see it, though it will probably have to wait until Sunday or Monday.

18 06 2010

Just wait, I’m about to follow up an A review with the first F review I’ve written on “Marshall and the Movies.”

The movie might shock you … unless you’ve looked at my review pages …

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