Let’s just stop and think about Pixar for a second. It seems that every film that Pixar has done has been the new standard by which other animated films are judged…until the next Pixar film comes along. I remember seeing TOY STORY for the first time in 1995. I was blown away by how real some of the backgrounds looked. I genuinely laughed at all the jokes. I was was caught up in a fun story about two characters forming an unlikely friendship in the most unlikely of places.
The Pixar movies that came after equally impressed me. From the retelling of ”The Ant and The Grasshopper” in A BUG’S LIFE to Sully’s fur in MONSTERS INC. to the Super Hero team movie that showed how other team up movies should be done in THE INCREDIBLES to the very adult themes in UP, Pixar has consistently surprised me with the ability to knock it out of the park everytime the studio steps up to the plate.
Right off the bat, I will tell you that, for me, TOY STORY 3 was no exception. I would never say that Buzz and Woody are part of my childhood. I was in college when Toy Story hit the scene. So, there was no way that the gang from Andy’s room could have been a part of my childhood, but they were a big part of the point in my life when movies began to become something a little more than a distraction to me. Toy Story was part of a time in my life when I began to watch movies a little more critically, when I began to pay attention to trailers a little more closely, when I began to seek out reviews from respected critics, and when I began to truly define my cinematic tastes. So, Pixar holds a special place for me inasmuch as in the past 15 years or so, I have been able to point friends and other geeks to Pixar as THE movie studio that “gets it.”
Now, confession time.
Confession 1 – I cringed a bit when I heard that Pixar had made and was preparing to release TOY STORY 2. When TOY STORY 2 came along, we had seen direct to video sequels for animated films and we all knew how much the quality of said films suffered at the hands of money making tyrants trying to cash in on the success of the predecessor. Thankfully, Pixar refused to fall into that trap and made a solid sequel geared toward showing audiences young and old what it means to go after a friend who may have lost his way, showing us that even when we feel discarded there is hope and friendship out there if we’ll just look for it, and of course, that the world of Andy’s toys is a fun place to hang out.
Confession 2 – I cringed a bit when I heard that Pixar had made and was preparing to release TOY STORY 3. Everyone knows that when it comes to animated movies, the third time is NOT the charm. Was this just a ploy to finally jump into this popular 3D trend? Had Pixar finally lost it? Were they so stretched for ideas that they had to go back to the Toy Story well yet again?
Thankfully, Pixar delivered a story that was not only original, but as heart wrenching as it is heart warming.
TOY STORY 3 breaks the mold of it’s predecessors by being a much more grown up experience. By now, we all know the premise of the story. Andy is getting ready to go to college and part of that process is deciding what to keep, what to throw away, and what to take with you. We are introduced to our characters just trying to get Andy’s attention. They’ve been in the toy box so long, and all they want is to be there for Andy…and to be played with. Through a series of events and misunderstandings, the gang ends up in box of toys to be donated to a local day care where all is not as it seems and they find themselves once again trying to get back to Andy.
The journey is fun, but not fun filled. This is a story for all the kids who grew up with these characters and may be headed off to college in the Fall themselves. This is a story for anyone who’s ever had to grow up. This is a story about letting go, but not forgetting.
Confession 3 – I’m tearing up even as I write this.
I denied it to those who saw the movie with me, but I will confess openly and freely, I cried…not choked up, not welled up…CRIED…while watching this movie. Over the past week since seeing the movie, I get a little choked up thinking about it.
In the world of cinema, we’ve seen coming of age stories, stories about adults finding their inner child, stories about the college kid finally letting go and growing up, but there has never been a movie that shows exactly what it means to grow up and let go as well as TOY STORY 3. Maybe it’s the kid in me that misses me being a kid, maybe it’s the adult in me that still mourns the loss of my childhood, but TOY STORY 3 found the part of me that misses truly being a kid and wrenched every last emotion out of that place.
I would never spoil the end of this movie for you. I have seen a lot of places talk about one scene in particular that is very moving and seems like it should be in a much more “grown – up” type movie. I’ve even seen one review that spoils the end of the movie. I wouldn’t do that. I would just say take the ride and enjoy it. Let your inner kid out to play for a while. Feel free to laugh embarassingly loud and a moment with Mr. Potatoe Head. Feel free to cry like I did when you see how things wrap up. If you’re a parent, feel free to take your kids and let this movie be your reminder to not make them grow up too soon.
I can’t speak to the 3D of this movie, I saw it in a regular old theater. But this movie is not about the technical aspects of the film. This movie is about the characters and the story.
I can’t speak highly enough of TOY STORY 3. I haven’t had the chance to see The A-Team or The Karate Kid, or much of anything else yet, and now I’m scared to because I don’t see how any movie this Summer can top what I saw in a darkened theater last week as I let Pixar bring me, one last time, into this amazing world of toys.
If I am going to rate this movie, I give it a perfect 5 out of 5 rating. Go see it.