I tells ya, you wait for one bound-to-be-good summer film and then two turn up at once! Well, before I deal with the inevitable post-blockbuster blues, let me just post up my thoughts on Toy Story 3 – the film I’ve been waiting 11 long years for.
If anything has proven the worth of a good idea, it’s the Toy Story series. After 1995, CGI caught on like crabs in a brothel and soon everyone and their dog were pumping out CG films like there was no tomorrow. In 1999, the king of computer animation returned and showed the pretenders how it’s done, by delivering a sequel (arguably) on par with the original. So, expectations are understandably high for this threequel.
Toy Story 3 is set nine years after the events of Toy Story 2. We catch up with a 17 year old Andy (John Morris) as he prepares to leave for college. After a mix-up, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and co. find themselves donated to Sunnyside Daycare Centre- a place full of hyperactive, loud and rough toddlers by day and run dictatorially by the strawberry-scented Lotso Huggin’ Bear (Ned Beatty) by night. When they find out Andy is looking for them, the gang decide to escape Sunnyside to finally return home. In my opinion, they couldn’t have chosen a better plot for the final Toy Story film. It seems like a natural progression to have the toys become obsolete and allows for many funny and touching moments. It almost seems trivial to mention that all the voice acting is fantastic, but I will because I like the clackety sound my keyboard makes when I type. Of the new additions though, Michael Keaton’s Ken and Timothy Dalton’s Mr.Pricklepants are the standouts. Both of which made me chuckle an embarrassing amount for a 23 year old male.
After the exceptional Pixar short Day and Night, the film opens with a fantastic action sequence involving a speeding train, a porcine spaceship and a bomb full of monkeys. It was funny, clever and everything I’ve come to expect from the Toy Story franchise. However, my smile soon faded as Woody and the gang hatch a plan involving a mobile phone just to get Andy to reach into the dusty toybox they’re stored in and pay them some attention. It’s really touching and the first of many emotional gut punches to come. The film doesn’t get hung up on trying to tug on the heartstrings, but a lot of scenes have an emotional resonance not really found in the first two. There is one scene where (invisotexted- trust me, you don’t want this spoiled) Woody and the gang find themselves facing their doom in an incinerator with no means of escape. Believing they’re done for, the gang resolutely and grimly hold hands and prepare themselves for a fiery end. It’s this level of poignancy and maturity that proves why Pixar are held in such high regard.
I realise I may have made Toy Story 3 sound as upbeat as a Schindler’s List remake starring terminally ill puppies. It really isn’t. The jokes come thick and fast and there’s plenty of fun to be had throughout. I’ve always loved it when the toys plan some sort of crazy scheme, so imagine my delight when it all goes a bit prison breakout halfway through. It’s a joy to watch the elements of the escape plan come together, especially when it culminates in a fantastic Potato Head moment. My heart sank when they did the same old “delusional Buzz” bit from the first two, but it eventually won (or should that be Juan?) me over. Oh, and the cymbal-banging monkey has now replaced that giant mutant crab in my recurring nightmare. He’s fucking terrifying.
All stories, no matter how good, have to come to an end and Toy Story 3 is a fitting final chapter. If you don’t even feel a pang of sadness when the credits start to roll, you’re beyond help. I could hear people sobbing ten minutes before the end and it only escalated from there. My only problem with it was that it was in 3D, but not much can really been done about that as long as studios continue to dangle super-shiny 3D in front of the flock of magpies we know as the general public. Still, it’s a great film and rather than merely suggest you watch it, I shall command you to. It needs to be seen. Make it so.