The Academy may as well not open the voting for ‘Best Animated Picture’ this year, nothing is going to stop that little gold man from joining Buzz and Woody’s gang after what Pixar have pulled off with Toy Story 3. Never before has there been a trilogy of films where each subsequent picture is as good as, or better than the original. What’s even more amazing is that this feat has been accomplished by not only a series of ‘kids movies’, but also a series that started with an experiment in a new way of making films. Let us never forget that the original Toy Story was the very first full length computer animated film. This is essentially to Pixar what Snow White was to Disney as a whole, or The Jazz Singer to all of Hollywood. It changed the game in terms of what could be achieved. Had those had sequels, maybe they could have managed to be of this consistent level of quality, but somehow I doubt it. In the Toy Story franchise, Pixar have that rarest of things, true movie magic.
Let me slow down before this turns into a love letter to Pixar and the Toy Story franchise as a whole. We are here to talk Toy Story 3, the final piece in the Toy Story puzzle. It’s been 11 years since the last Toy Story film, so where are we now? Well, it’s been 11 years for the toys too, and as is the way with the species we call human, we grow up. Andy, the owner of the titular toys, has done just the same. He’s 17 and getting ready to head off the university. The toys we knew and loved in the first few films have dwindle in number until only a core group remain. This sets up the big question that spurs on the entire narrative of the film, “what happens when an owner outgrows their toys?” What this sparks off is a movie that, surprisingly, plays out like the wittiest, most emotional prison escape movie you have ever seen.
Even though we’ve lost some friends along the way, there are a bunch of new toys to meet that fill out a great ensemble cast. On the one hand, Ned Beatty puts in a powerful turn as ‘Lots-O’-Hugging Bear’, whereas Timothy Dalton’s role as “Mr. Pricklepants” is minor, but is also an example of the spot on casting done for this film. Hell, they’ve got Whoopie Goldberg cast so perfectly as, wait for it, a stretchy purple octopus that you would never know her from the character itself. The new face that stole the film for me was Michael Keaton’s superb Ken. You’ll know why when you see it.
Trust me, you will want to see it. If you are a kid, you will love it. If you are an adult, you will love it. However, I myself am particularly lucky. I am truly the perfect age group for this film. I grew up with the original films, and as Andy is leaving for University in the film, that process is still fresh in my mind from going through it myself. If you are aged 16-20, and enjoyed the original Toy Story movies, I can honestly think of no better film for you right now. Actually, that statement is true for every moviegoer. What Pixar excel at is making movies for everyone’s inner child, and the Toy Story series is the one that has done this the most thoroughly. At some point in your life, you have played with toys. That’s what makes Toy Story. Look at that sentence again. That past tense going on there? That’s exactly what Toy Story 3 is all about. Toys don’t get played with forever.
Movie franchises don’t last forever either, and thank god that this one has gone out with a bang. Toy Story 3 is an emotional rollercoaster. It’s hilarious, but in a way that no-one will have a joke pitched too low, or fly over their heads. It’s terrifying too, in a way that mainstream animated films haven’t been for a long time. What really makes Toy Story 3 is how heartfelt and cathartic it is. Toy Story 3 is the only film I can remember ever to make me cry.
Go see it now, for the sake of all your old toys.
Mr. Potato Head’s new look