I’ve struggled in writing my review for Toy Story 3 because my nieces hate it. It is a film that gets very intense, too intense for my nieces and I didn’t know how much to take that into account. I had the same struggle with my Pinocchio review, which in my defense was only the 2nd review I had ever written but at the time I said:
Pinocchio is visually gorgeous with good, if heavy-handed moral teachings. It can be scary for kids and has a grim overall feel. I appreciate it but I can’t give it my highest rating because of how I know it affected me as a child.
So I gave Pinocchio a B+ and I’ve gone back and forth on it ever since. In many ways the issue is the same with Toy Story 3. How much does a child’s opinion count in reviewing an animated film? We know that animation isn’t just for children but in the same breath if they don’t like it isn’t that a problem? I don’t know. I honestly can’t decide. What do you think?
Anyway, in the end I can only review a movie based on what I think of it. At least with the Pinocchio review I was taking into account only what I thought of it as a child not other children. I don’t have that luxury with Toy Story 3. But I didn’t let anyone else’s opinions affect any of my other reviews so why should my nieces feelings be any different. I’m just going to tell you what I think. So here goes.
I love Toy Story 3! I mean this was me after watching it yesterday!
And yet I was also laughing and enjoying the tense moments so it isn’t just a cryfest. It may just be the best 3rd installment in a franchise ever. Return of the King, Indiana Jones and Last Crusade may be better but that’s all I can think of. Can you?
Anyway, in this film we are 11 years after the events of Toy story 2 and just as you might expect Andy has grown up and is off to college.
In the opening scenes they lay out two key themes for the rest of the movie:
1. Andy’s Toys are a family and while they’ve lost some they stick together as best as they can.
2. That Andy will play with them one more time.
But both seem like an impossibility because Andy wants to take Woody to college with him and the rest are accidentally sent to a daycare center called Sunnyside as a donation by Andy’s Mom.
At first the daycare seems like a pretty great setup for the toys. They will get played with again after 10 years in dust and that seems pretty great. They are also welcomed by the leader of Sunnyside, a bear named Lots-O (for Lots-O-Huggin’ Bear) voiced by Ned Beatty.
Unfortunately all is not sunny at the daycare and the next section of the movie turns into a prison escape story but it never gets serious for too long. Most of the humor comes from Buzz who gets put on his Spanish setting (so funny!).
And Michael Keaton is also hilarious as the Ken doll who falls instantly in love with Barbie and is very concerned with his wardrobe.
There is also humor from a little girl named Bonnie’s toys who fancy themselves a kind of theater group. We also learn from these toys the true story about Lots-O and how he came to run Sunnyside like a jail.
Directed by Lee Unkrich he is not afraid to push the boundaries of our expectations. Most people assume characters in a movie like this are not going to die but boy do they come close in the famous (or infamous depending on how you look at it) incinerator scene. It is such a bold scene:
I still can’t believe they cut it that close but it is incredibly gripping if way too intense for my nieces! I completely get their response because I also feel tense watching it. How can you not?
With the prison escape done we get the end of the movie which is Andy’s chance to say goodbye to his childhood and for the toys, especially Woody, to say goodbye to him. Pixar is so great at these type of emotional, life changing moments and this is one of the best.
Some may say it is unrealistic for a college student to play with his toys one last time but I don’t think it is. Maybe in a previous era it might have been but this is the era of adults trick-or-treating and dressing up for comicon. This is the era of grown men collecting Funko dolls and displaying them proudly.
I’m not the most nostalgic person in the world but even I have dolls displayed proudly in my room and I’m 34 years old. If I had to give them up I would cry because my Grandma gave them to me. There’s no reason to assume Andy would be any less attached to these toys.
But even if you set that reality aside saying goodbye to the toys is symbolic of Andy saying goodbye to his childhood and I think he knows that. In many ways it is kind of like the end of the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh when Christopher tells Pooh that he can’t do nothing any more even though it is what he loves most of all.
Plus, in this final scenes we get the fulfillment of the 2 promises made at the beginning of the film creating a nice sense of closure to the film. Just as we were promised Andy plays with the toys one more time and they all stay together because they are a family. Love that.
I think we all have those moments in life where we put away childhood and become a grown up. It’s like the scripture says:
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things”
That is the ending of Toy Story 3 and it is an emotion almost anyone can relate and respond too. In a way you could call it the great necessary evil of life. Despite what Peter Pan wants we all must eventually grow up.
It practically goes without saying the animation is stunning- bright and colorful, with a clarity and realism to all the characters I haven’t seen in Pixar till this film. Also the voice work is top notch with all our familiar characters and new voice actors such as Keaton, Beatty, Whoopi Goldberg, Timothy Dalton, Bonnie Hunt and Jeff Garlin. Everyone involved in Toy Story 3 did an amazing job.
Thankfully we have Pixar to keep making films for adults and some children who aren’t too terrified! They help keep some of the magic alive within all of us and Toy Story 3 has magic in spades. I loved watching it again and if I ever have kids maybe I will just fast forward the incinerator scene so they can enjoy it too. 🙂
Overall Grade- A+
And for the record I have faith they have a good idea for Toy Story 4 and it will be good. It is not going to be a continuation of the Andy storyline but exist solely in the world of the toys, a romance I’ve been told. John Lasseter is directing 4 so sign me up!