In 1995 a studio called Pixar came along and changed the face of film animation as we all knew it. It was the first animated movie to be done completely by computer, and it had thrills and emotion in a slick, well-oiled package that appealed to both kids and adults.
No one thought they could top the first one, but then came Toy Story 2 (which was originally to go straight to video before they realised they had another winner on their hands), which – at least on a technical level – surpassed the first in a lot of ways.
Now comes Toy Story 3 – an arguably unnecessary sequel – which again tops its franchise predecessors on a technical level. And although for me it doesn’t reach the heights of the first two terms of emotion and story, this “threequel” has everything you could want from a movie of its kind, and by the end it rounds the franchise off perfectly.
Toy Story 3 catches us up with all our favourite toy characters including Woody, Buzz, Rex, Ham, Mr. And Mrs. Potato Head, Slinky and all those other fondly remembered playthings.
However, its bad news for the toys as their owner, Andy, is all grown up and heading off to college. Instead of going with him or getting put in the attic, the toys are shipped off and donated to Sunnyside Day Care centre.
Their they – and we – get introduced to a whole new set of toys including Ken (yes, that Ken), a talking telephone, and Lots ‘O’ Huggin’ Bear. However, the toys soon learn being played with all day, every day, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and so they decide to try and escape to get back to Andy before he leaves for college.
One of the key aspects of Toy Story 3, and why I think it will hold a lot of weight for the audience, is the sense of pure nostalgia. Not only is there some very recognisable toys that we all played with as kids – from teddy bears to trolls (the inclusion of the latter is particularly hilarious) – but there’s a nostalgia for the past films in the series at play, and the very fact we’re getting to spend time with them after more than a decade since the last outing.
As per usual with Pixar (arguably the best movie studio in the industry), there’s appeal for both kids and adults. For kids there’s the silly slapstick, the broad jokes, and the dazzling look (not that adults can’t enjoy those aspects). For the adults there’s an injection of intelligent and sophisticated humour, as well as a really well-stitched together plot. This is more than just pure entertainment – there’s heart and soul to everything.
From its opening sequence involving a dangerous runaway train to the near-end action sequence, the third Toy Story is also full of thrills and excitement. Director Lee Unrich (who also directed Toy Story 2, as well as Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc.) and crew always find a way to make any piece of action they have not just be cool to look at in a superficial way but to get you really invested in what happens to these characters. On the latter, there are some moments that could be considered a little bit too scary for the very young audience members out there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a horror or hardcore action film of any sort, but there are moments where you truly fear for the safety of these characters and that might upset the young ‘uns.
The now obligatory 3D is (thankfully) utilised well, enhancing the action and immersing you in the world rather than being a distraction and an annoyance, as is most often the case these days (see Clash of the Titans as prime example). It didn’t NEED to be in 3D but at least it’s put to best use.
Toy Story 3 might not be the best of the franchise, never mind as good as some of Pixar’s other recent films (Up in particular). However, it’s still a fantastic animated film that has the whole package: Laughs, thrills, excitement, nostalgia, and a heavy dose of heart and emotion (the ending should have even the most macho of men teary-eyed). Although it’s entirely unnecessary, don’t for a minute rule out the possibility of a fourth Toy Story. And to be honest, if they could make it as good as the trilogy, then it certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, now would it?