Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Good Woody Hard To Forget

Toy Story 3

Andy (John Morris) is getting ready to head off to college and is forced to decide what to do with all his childhood toys. Although Andy intends to store most of them in the attic, a mix up causes Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and the rest of the gang to end up in the Sunnyside Daycare facility. At first the daycare looks like heaven on earth for the toys. They are warmly greeted by Lotso (Ned Beatty), who seemingly is the head of all the Sunnyside toys, and there are tons of kids to play with the toys. Even the possibility of romance arises as discarded Barbie (Jodi Benson) meets Ken (Michael Keaton). While most of the toys seem to enjoy their new surroundings, Woody is determined to get back to Andy. It is only after setting out to find Andy that Woody discovers Lotso may not be as friendly as he appears. With his friends in danger, Woody must figure out a way to save his pals and get back to Andy’s house before it is too late.

What is left to say about a movie that almost every professional movie critic and blogger has already said for me? I think Andy summed it up perfectly at the end of the Toy Story 3 when he somberly says “thanks guys.”

Thank you Toy Story 3 for offering up yet another engaging buddy film that never felt forced. Not for a minute. The movie features two distinct, and fully realized, story arcs that allowed both Woody and Buzz to continue the growth established in the previous two films. Woody’s arc leads the film into in a much darker place than the other films. Even though the main characters are toys Toy Story 3 offers a lot of food for thought in regards to death and the longevity of friendship. It is touching to witness Woody struggles with issues of mortality while still trying to maintain a brave face amongst his friends.

Director Lee Unkrich smartly balances the more somber mood of Woody’s adventure with Buzz’s more comedic arc. What I like about the Buzz Lightyear segments are that they never resort to cheap gags. Unkrich ensures that the humour is always grounded and often ties back into the allusions to Buzz’s love life. Another thing that is noticeable about Buzz’s arc is that it provides a platform for all the supporting characters to have their moments in sun. Unlike many film out right now, there is not one supporting character that feels out of place. Jesse, Rex, Hamm and the Potato Heads have become such an essential part to the Toy Story universe. Toy Story 3 would have felt odd without them.

I would also like to say thank the film for finding a way to sell Happy Meal without ever comprising the integrality of the main product. Are you taking notes Shrek? Whether it is the references to classic films such as Escape from Alcatraz and The Great Escape, or the reflective moments that will leave your eyes a little misty by the end, Toy Story 3 just gets better as the film goes on. Even in its final installment the Toy Story series continues to be a reminder that you can make big budget films that tell good stories, are full of action and humour, and feature well rounded characters.

If I had to make a complaint about the film, it would be that Pixar opted to go the 3D route yet again. Similar to Up, Toy Story 3 really does not need the 3D gimmick at all. I would have been impacted the exact same way had the film been done in 2D, the only real difference is I would have few bucks more in my pocket. Still, the loss of three extra dollars is minor considering how much the Toy Story franchise has given me back in return. So thanks again guys, it has been a fun ride and I am sad to see you go.


  1. Glad to see you really loved this movie and Pixar hasn't lost its mastery of the US animation market. Because I don't usually go see animations in theater, I will have to wait a few months before seeing it but I'm looking forward to it.

    You know, it's a trilogy until it is not. Just saying ;)

  2. @Castor - I think you will enjoy this one. The one good thing about seeing it later is that the hype will have died down. You will be able to look at the film with fresh eyes.

    I perfer to think it is a trilogy until the films start to stink. Hence why I refuse to acknowledge that The Matrix had any sequels :)

  3. I saw it this past Sunday and was really amazed and moved by it. After giving it some thought, I do think it's the weakest of the three but only by a little. The 2nd one is my favorite of the 3. I think it's a brilliant trilogy and the way they ended it is phenomenal.

    BTW, what did you think of the Day & Night short? I think it's one of Pixar's best short films.

  4. @thevoid99 – Toy Story 2 is still my favourite as well. In regards to Day & Night, I was on the fence at first but loved it by the end. At one point the short seemed to drag things out a little too long, but I loved how they tied everything together. Although I enjoyed some of Pixar’s previous shorts more than this one, I would still say Day & Night ranks in the upper tier.

  5. I didn't even bother with the 3-D, since I felt that if it didn't add anything to the experience of UP, it wasn't going to add anything here.

    Oh, and for my money the best film reference was COOL HAND LUKE - all that discussion about spending a night in the box.

    Totally with you on coming away from this with a feeling of thankfulness. I didn't exactly "grow up" with this trilogy as many bloggers did, but it made me think back to my own toys who kept me company when not many friends would.

    So for honouring all of them, TOY STORY got top marks from me.

    Great post!

  6. @Hatter – I think I will be off the 3D experience until Tron comes out. I have thrown too much money down the drain on the whole thing.

    I hear you on the toys keeping you company reflection. As an only child, I have fond memories of some of the toys I grew up planning with. So I understands Andy’s struggle to give them away

  7. Those last 15 minutes practically had me balling in my seat, as I noticed not only was Andy saying "bye", I was too. Great film, great review!

  8. @CMrok93 - It is amazing how much emotion this film generates. It is a testament to the great story telling.


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