Toy Story 3 (2010)
It is a rare occurrence that a franchise can have a trilogy of stories end on such a triumphant level. Having a successful sequel is hard enough, but having a ‘threequel’ that almost transcends what was established by the original and is able to leave a substantial and lasting mark on the legacy of the company that released it. This is that kind of film. It plays on multiple levels and taps into a variety of genres outside of its seemingly “kiddie-flick” façade. This is Toy Story 3.
With the first Toy Story, Pixar established a world and group of characters that could be seen as more than just toys. The characters and the situations they face are as real as in any sweeping, real-person drama. This flick has a strong start giving us an insight into the inner workings of Andy’s imagination. The toys are in full action, citing lines that throw back to the previous entries. For anyone that grew up with this series and its characters, the movie instantly begins to tug on the heart-strings of nostalgia and by the end of the film the pay of is well worth the more than decade wait for the conclusion. The story this time around works on very high and mature levels; this time the toys are faced with the eventuality of age and separation as Andy is now old enough to leave his toys behind and he becomes a young adult. With this, the gang of toys are also faced with the question of their immortality as toys: whether they will stand by, on the sidelines, and watch their ‘kid’ grow into a man or move on to be played with by other kids for generations to come. There are some serious and quite adult themes at play here, for a children’s film, moved along with a dynamic pace through the comedic highs and a few deep, dark moments.
The majority of the original cast return for this go around with a few genius small parts speckled throughout. Timothy Dalton, Jeff Garlin, Bonnie Hunt, and Kristen Schaal play a new group of toys that believe that they are part of an acting troupe that act as supporting players with their kid and her adventures. Javier Fernadez-Pena has a brief stint as Spanish Buzz that, coupled with some great animation, results in some pretty hysterical moments. Michael Keaton comes in as Ken (an accessory to Barbie, of course) and is simply hilariously brilliant. The most stand out performance for this flick however comes in the shape of a fluffy, squishy, strawberry scented plush bear, Lotso. Ned Beatty plays this part with a very strong and unique southern charm but with a strangely maniacal undercurrent to it. He definitely leads the charge in character performance here and helps to create the multi-faced tone present throughout the flick.
At this point, Pixar is dangerously (if not actually at) the top of their game visually. This movie looks stunning. All of the characters, the humans especially, received major overhauls. Again, I cannot stress enough how great this flick (and other Pixar gems) look in high-definition. The modeling and rendering are at they highest level here. There are some objects that approach photorealistic, yet every thing still has enough of a caricature element to it to be reminded that this is a cartoon. However the stellar animation, fantastic story/storytelling, and the phenomenal action all combine to make what is truly masterful picture. Although everything on the screen was created on a computer with a stupidly complex combination of ones and zeros, this movie is real!
- Toy Story 3, to you my friend only one thing can be said, “the Force is strong with this one.”