Notes On A Film: Toy Story 3

I didn’t want to see Toy Story 3 when I first heard about it, especially as it was to be 3D. The first two films were so perfect, I didn’t think Pixar could match them; I thought that it was Disney milking a lucrative franchise. And I was going off 3D films as well, so that added to my lack of desire to see it. Even when the glowing reviews started to pour in, I thought I would watch it on DVD. Fortunately, my girlfriend had an urge to see a film one lovely Saturday afternoon a month after the film had come out, and I’m very grateful she did.

Toy Story 3 is every bit as good as you have heard from everyone else – a superb piece of cinema disguised as a children’s movie about toys. Exquisitely rendered, highly emotional, tremendously thrilling, incredibly funny, utterly absorbing and heartbreaking, Toy Story 3 is absolutely wonderful and I can’t find the words to describe how good it is.

The third film sees Andy as a 17 year old, about to go to college, who has to decide what happens to his toys – does he take any to college (Woody), put them in the attic or throw them away. Due to a mix-up, the toys that have survived Andy’s teenage years end up being donated to Sunnyside Daycare, where Woody wants to clear up the misunderstanding and rescue them. Of course, things aren’t as simple as that, especially with the new toys they meet at the centre are involved. There is excitement, laughter (Spanish Buzz Lightyear is perhaps the standout), thrills, chills, and more moments of adult themes than should be legal for an animated movie – the incredible balancing act of the child-like and the adult that is the hallmark of Pixar is maintained once again.

The strange thing was that I didn’t notice the 3D – I think that the digital animation allows for the best use of the immersive nature of 3D without needing to poke you in the eye with it. It goes without saying that the film looks beautiful, but everything else about the film is perfect as well: the script doesn’t waste a single frame, the large cast of characters are all given equal moments, the characterisation drives the story, the new characters don’t overwhelm the main heroes, and the moments of heartache that infuse the plot and the film (particularly the end) are a delight. There are riffs on moments from the previous films, and there is even another homage to Star Wars, particularly to a final scene of Return of the Jedi (which connects with the riff on The Empire Strikes Back in Toy Story 2; now, if I could only find a Star Wars riff in Toy Story, the parallels would be complete). Which brings me to the concept of trilogies – I don’t think that the three Toy Story films make a true trilogy; it’s more of the continuing saga of a cast of characters with connections and themes. Not that it matters: Pixar have created three five-star Toy Story films, which is an incredible achievement, and ones that will keep the whole family entertained for years to come.

Rating: DAVID

[Explanation of my updated film rating system]

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