They’re back in all their kooky splendor. You’d have to be dead not to have heard of Toy Story, the animated film from Pixar and Disney that defined all future animated projects. Pixar sets the standard and the others follow. But Up, Ratatouille, and WALL·E are hard acts to follow. Toy Story appealed mainly to kids because it celebrated the child’s world, full of toys and mystery. I think most children imagine that their toys have a life, that must cause them to engage in battles, in hugs, and in kisses.
The child gets to be the parent and the toys their offspring. This was an ingenious storyline. But as Pixar matured so did the projects. The last three particularly hit some sort of high water mark, appealing to the child in adults without leaving behind the kids. The messages of Up, Ratatouille, and WALL·E became increasingly deeper. Along comes Toy Story 3, and you might expect that it will be “too childish” for more mature tastes. Well, I’m here to say forget your worries and go to this gorgeous, deep, and cinematically inventive movie.
The movie is in 3D, but the effect is used sparingly and only increases our appreciation of the scenes. It’s not all objects coming at you in the dark. Thematically the movie is darker, but not so dark that kids will not like it. There are some pretty scary scenes, particularly as the toys struggle to avoid being melted or worse once they escape the preschool. See, their owner has grown up and is off to college and through a series of mishaps the toys end up in a preschool. Well, the preschoolers are real terrors so the toys escape.
There are some new elements to the toys themselves. There is the kindly pink teddy (who smells like strawberries) that becomes their guide in their new environment. There are also some marvelous sequences with Barbie and Ken with Ken being more fashion-obsessed than Barbie. My favorite is when Buzz finds his inner Spaniard. Buzz doing flamenco is truly hysterical. The movie is chock full of humor but also has lessons about loss, growing up, believing life is better elsewhere, and the importance of childhood attachments. This is the best Toy Story yet and totally enjoyable as well as moving.
It will be showing at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood all summer. The El Capitan also features a wonderful organist, and afterward you can head over to Hollywood High where a special Toy Story Fun Zone has been set up for the kids. Go see Toy Story 3 at the beautiful El Capitan. If not, catch it at your local movie house.