Hey guys! Laura “Boobies” Thomas already did a review for Toy Story 3 and it was slam-tastic! So to check that out before (or after) reading my thoughts, go here: http://thisweekingeek.net/blogs/guest-blog-laura-boobiesthomas-on-toy-story-3
I decided to write my own blog about the film though, mostly because I promised to in my last blog and so I could share my own thoughts with all of you, even though they might seem strikingly similar to Laura, but that’s OK. We’re both here to confirm the good news that Cars remains Pixar’s only disappointing film to date!
Let me start by taking you back with a little bit of history. In 1995 I was 7 years old and my parents promised me that if I was on my best behaviour for a whole week they would take me to see a new movie that just came out called Toy Story. I didn’t know much about the movie except for a few TV spots I had seen totting it as the “first feature length computer generated movie ever!” I had no idea what this meant so I couldn’t get excited that way. At some point (I can’t remember if it was before or after my parent’s made their promise) I actually picked up the Toy Story picture book at a book fair at my school. I read it, but didn’t really understand it, mostly because I thought Andy and Sid where the same kid. Hey, it was a poorly written book and I was only 7, OK? Anyways, at the end of the week my parents took me to see the movie and I loved it! Well, of course I loved it. It had action, adventure, comedy and a great buddy aspect between Woody and Buzz, plus it was all about toys. What kid doesn’t love toys? Then again, just because I liked something when I was a kid doesn’t necessarily make it good. I liked Space Jam when I was a kid. I liked North when I was a kid. I liked most of the movies that the Nostalgia Critic has reviewed at some point when I was a kid. I had bad taste when I was a kid, because I was a kid and I didn’t care. Actors, directors and the art of film-making are meaningless terms to a child. When you’re a kid you watch a movie for one reason and one reason only: to be entertained. Movies mean little more to you than your toys when you’re a kid and well, a movie about toys; well that was just the best of both worlds to any kid. The question was; would it stand up as an adult? The answer is yes.
Toy Story is nothing short of a miracle. In fact, when The American Film Institute made their updated list of the 100 greatest movies of all time in 2007, they included Toy Story as #99, right above Ben-Hur at #100. That means they were saying that an 81 minute animated movie about a cowboy and a space ranger was actually better than a 212 minute live-action movie about a Hebrew slave in the time of Christ fighting against all odds to regain his freedom and save his family. Take a moment to re-read that last statement and think about the implications of what I just said. Toy Story had such an effect on our culture that this little movie, about two toys trying to escape from the bedroom of an evil 9-year-old and becoming friends along the way had such an impact on our culture that lines like “To infinity and beyond!” and “YOU … ARE … A … TOY!” became a part of our modern vernacular and you were really nobody if you had never seen it. Pixar successfully made us fall in love with these characters and took what could have been a disaster and turned the first ever feature length computer generated movie into nothing short of a masterpiece. Soon, this style of animation would dominate North America and then the rest of the world and still Toy Story remained one of the best and it still is today. I loved it as a kid and I love it now.
Then in 1999 I went to see The Iron Giant with my family (another amazing movie, by future Pixar collaborator Brad Bird, ironically enough) and I saw a preview for Toy Story 2. I had no idea this was coming, but Toy Story did lend itself to a sequel and I loved it, so naturally I was extremely excited. A few months later Toy Story 2 hit theatres and my parents took me to see it. I was 11 this time, but still a child, still with toys and still ready for another Toy Story adventure. I loved Toy Story 2. I didn’t really have my doubts, but I wasn’t really expecting it to be as good as the first movie. To my shock, I actually found myself having more fun this time around, with new characters a cool back-story for Woody and lots of perilous action-adventure. It was a blast and totally stood up to the original. Over time I’d recognize that Toy Story 2 relied a little too much on referencing the first film and didn’t have quite the impact, but it was still a favourite and remains one of the best sequels ever made, to this day. I left the theatre feeling satisfied that the story of the toys had been cleverly wrapped up. We found out where Woody came from and we had the comfort of knowing that Andy would love his toys for years to come and even when he grew up, they would just get passed down to Molly, right? I was OK with leaving the franchise there forever. I didn’t need to know what happened next.
Then 2009 rolled around. I was a College graduate living out on my own for the first time, trying to make my way in the world and spending more time than I probably should have hitting on girls. I was no kid anymore. Then I find out that the long-awaited Toy Story sequel I kept hearing about was actually happening. By this point I view movies very different, not only do I notice all the artistic merit, or lack thereof in a film, I also know a lot more about the politics of film and I knew this film was only happening because Disney wanted more money. Pixar wasn’t too keen on making sequels, eager to leave older characters behind and develop new ones. Their focus was on story-telling, not money. Naturally I was wary about the new film, I felt as if Pixar wasn’t going to put their hearts into it, because they were basically being forced into it. Boy was I ever wrong!
Growing up along with Andy and the toys he loves, I felt a deeper connection to these characters than I can even describe and I know I’m not alone. This movie was made for me and I can’t really be angry about that. Toy Story 3 hit me in ways I cannot describe. It reminded me of how I (along with anyone else over 15) had grown up with these characters and just like Andy, I had abandoned them, thinking that they had no more good stories to tell. When Woody and the gang reminded me that I was wrong, reminded me that we need our toys as much as they need us, reminded me that the things we love when we’re children are more than just toys, they are catalysts for our imaginations, they are pieces of our heart that we left behind in an attempt to “mature”, I was truly sad. Leave it to Pixar to show me that some good ol’ fashioned immaturity is just what I needed.
This is not at all to say that Toy Story 3 is immature. Like I said, it was made for everyone who ever loved these characters and it was also made to introduce a new generation to the things that we loved as a child. Just like Andy passing down his toys to the local day care, we were passing down our toy story to the local theatre and they loved it! Toy Story 3 is not a film to be taken lightly however, it takes itself just as seriously as it needs to and at times that means that it will bring the audience to tears or make you believe that the toys are in genuine peril and could actually embrace their end (see Laura’s review for confirmation of this). I can’t remember the last time I felt so strongly for a group of characters as I did for Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Mr. And Mrs. Potato Head, Hamm, Slinky, Rex and Bullseye in Toy Story 3.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “But Double D, you only care about these characters because you watched the first two movies 134 times each!” Well, that may be partially true (actually, it was closer to 150), but that’s not the only reason I cared about these characters this time around. I cared about these characters because Pixar, once again, had reminded me how special they are to me with a top-notch script and perfect plotting.
The plot, as you probably already know, revolves around Andy finally growing up, turning 17 and going away to college. The opening, a wonderful scene where we see things from Andy’s perspective as he plays with his toys as a child, followed by home video footage of Andy and the toys growing up together, perfectly sets up the film in a bitter-sweet way. We all knew Andy would outgrow his toys eventually, it was only a matter of time and that time has come. The next scene where Woody and the gang try one last time to get Andy to play with them by hijacking his cell phone sets up where we are today. Andy has a lot more use for that cell phone than he does for his old toys. We quickly find out that only Andy’s most important toys have survived, living in a toy box, waiting to be played with seemingly just as long as we’ve been waiting to see this movie. Toys like Etch, Wheezy, RC and most importantly, Bo-Peep have been donated to garage sales and lost along the way. This is the sad and bitter-sweet situation we are hurled into within the first 10 minutes of Toy Story 3. Things go from bad to worse when the toys are accidentally misplaced through a series of coincidences and find their way into a day-care that they soon discover is ran more like a prison, where toys have no way to escape due to a complex security system constantly being monitored by a cymbal-smashing monkey, and when Buzz is reset to his old crazy ways things seem bleak before an escape plan is formed and the real fun begins. From here Toy Story 3 goes into a series of hilarious, intelligent and enjoyable set-pieces that keep going from bad to worse until the toys and the audience are literally ready to embrace the end. I won’t give anything else away, because I don’t want to spoil the fun, but believe me, Toy Story 3 is just that, non-stop fun. I guarantee you will laugh, cry and believe once again that toys are alive.
I was worried at first that the inclusion of a slew of new characters would detract from the already large ensemble cast, but it doesn’t at all. The new toys all serve their purpose without ever drawing too much attention to themselves so as to distract from the over-all enjoyment of the film. In fact, I found the new toys added something fresh to the film and made me enjoy it more for taking things in a new direction, unlike Toy Story 2 which, as I said, relied a bit too heavily on the success of the first film. Pixar was not afraid to take this film into a surprising new direction and that’s why it felt so fresh for something that’s been around for 15 years.
And of course, in case you were wondering, Toy Story 3 looks just as good as any other Pixar film, with state of the art animation and yes the 3D was cool too. I do like how Pixar uses 3D to add to their films by merely adding another layer, rather than detracting by drawing attention to itself. Bad 3D is the equivalent of someone putting an annoying sound effect in the back speaker of a 5.1 surround system, just to remind the audience that they’re watching the movie in surround sound. Pixar is better than that.
So in conclusion of what must be the longest review I’ve ever written, (see Laura’s review for the shorter version) Toy Story 3 is a worthy successor to its predecessors and a worthy inclusion in the hall of Pixar greats. Score one more for Pixar! I had so many doubts about this movie and it proved me wrong in every possible way. I was entertained, touched and blessed to be a part of finally finding out what happens next for Andy’s toys. Toy Story was always one of my favourite movies, now it’s one of my favourite trilogies! C’mon, how often are third movies good? Spider-Man 3, anyone? So yeah, Toy Story 3 is awesome. Go see it.
I give Toy Story 3 a perfect 5 out of 5!
Stay tuned for more reviews and discussions about the movies you love (or hate) from the source you trust, Double D, only at thisweekingeek.net!
I seriously doubt I’m going to be this excited when Cars 2 comes out.