Wednesday, June 30, 2010

REVIEW: Toy Story 3

No one needs me to tell them to see Toy Story 3. Even if I were still writing pre-release reviews, no one would need me to tell them to see Toy Story 3.

By now, with Pixar, the question has become not "Is it good" but "How good is it?" Having just seen the movie a second time, I find myself sighing with a happy sadness at how wonderfully this story has come to a close.

I won't waste space going into the plot. This is a movie in which the less you know about the story, the better it works. However, you should know that this is the darkest of the Toy Story movies - and perhaps even Pixar's darkest film of all. It's not that big a stretch to call it The Empire Strikes Back of animated movies. The ending may not be as harsh, but our pals go through some harrowing moments on their way there.

The sometimes foreboding tone may catch some viewers off guard. Toy Story 3 is less genteel than its warmer, fuzzier predecessors. I will argue, however, that this is appropriate to the story Pixar needs to tell. It's about growing and  putting the past behind you. For both the toys and their owner Andy, it's about coming to grips with an uncertain future and a bigger world that is often frightening. And for the toys in particular, it's about facing a kind of mortality. It's the question that was inevitable - what do they do once they've outlived their usefulness?

Perhaps I'm making it sound a bit "heavy." Make no mistake, there's still an abundance of fun to be found here. But one could fairly argue the story gets a little too downbeat. I wish the movie had spent more time with an adorable little girl named Bonnie who has an imagination at least as big as Andy's. Getting to know her toys better might have counterbalanced all the drama.

But even that excess is redeemed by moments of brilliance. Toy Story 3 offers many delightful homages to prison break movies, and the film has some wonderfully inventive fun finding out what happens when you take the potato out of Mr. Potato Head. The beginning of the movie also marvelously recalls the beginning of the original Toy Story. 

But is is the ending of this movie that makes it an instant classic, flaws and all. To complain too much about this movie is to split hairs. From the heart-stopping climax to the heart-filling denouement, the third act of Toy Story 3 is absolutely pitch perfect. It is as moving an ending to Toy Story 3 as the "Married Life" sequence was a beginning to Up. It's not the best movie of the trilogy - that distinction still belongs to Toy Story 2 - but it is the most surprising, and the most emotional movie of the bunch. I can't get it out of my head, or my heart.


Note: I've seen the film both in 2D and 3D. As was the case with Up and last year's Toy Story double feature, the 3D is effective but inessential. Director Lee Unkrich is on record is saying that it works either way. The choice - and the money - is yours.

1 comment:

West Coast Britt said...

ahhh I totally agree! I thought it was great, and even cried at the end haha