Friday Movie Blog: Toy Story 3

Pixar can make even the most hard-hearted viewer get all teary

I don’t think I deserve to be called a heartless bastard by my friends. So what if I didn’t cry during The Notebook? (She remembered him—isn’t that a good thing?) So what if I thought my movie-going companion’s sobs during the first minutes of Up were due to some 3D-glasses injury? So what if I think Jane Seymour and her Open Hearts are the first signs of the apocalypse? (Well, besides animals in clothing and KFC’s Double Down. Obviously.) I am just not one to cry at movies. When I’m constantly examining camera angles and validity of musical underscoring, it’s a little hard to get emotionally invested. So when Toy Story 3 (PG) was coming to its end, I was a little surprised—I had a tear.

It’s been over 10 years since we’ve last seen Woody and Buzz. Andy has grown older. The toys are fewer—having been donated, thrown out, or sold. As Andy prepares to go to college, the remaining toys, who’ve been shelved for quite some time, begin to worry if they’ll be stored in the attic, taken with him to college, or thrown out. In a series of events, the toys find themselves at the Sunnyside Daycare, whose toy inhabitants seem extremely welcoming … at first.[SIGNUP]

This Toy Story is similar to its predecessors: the journey home to Andy. All the amazing elements are still there: zaniness (the toys find Buzz’s Spanish mode), great new characters (the scenes between Ken and Barbie are absolutely spectacular), and incredible animation. There were moments in the film that actually took my breath away. Buzz walking into the daycare’s break room, illuminated by a vending machine. Or Woody, waking up in a bed surrounded by other toys. Each is an awe-inspiring vision, where Pixar animators show both their talent and their artistry. While this story is more mature in its examination of loss and letting go, it is really about the love between the toys and children. But above all you still have heart. So much heart, that at the end many adults around me were wiping their eyes. Including me.

Since Toy Story 2 was released in 1999, the entire Shrek franchise has come and gone. Pixar has given us seven full-length films (including Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Wall-E), and earned five Oscars for Best Animated Feature. Pixar has done what no other studio has been able to do: be both financially and creatively successful. With each new feature, they defy the odds and create new, imaginative worlds and further redefine what an animated feature should be … or be about. To some, Toy Story 3 may feel like a thematic return to the earlier, more “childish” films (Monsters, Inc., A Bug’s Life), as compared to the deeper films of recent years (Ratatouille). Look closely and you’ll see that even the simplest tales can be the most profound.

For this heartless bastard, Toy Story 3 is a breath of fresh air for these stale summer months. It is a wholly beautiful, smart, and, yes, touching film that may ultimately get Pixar yet another Oscar. And cause these films to be remembered as one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time.

N(y)erd alert: Make sure you see this in 3D. The studio has proven time and again that the technology is not just a ploy, but also a useful storytelling tool. The dazzling short before the movie, Day & Night, is well worth the extra cost. (In theaters.)

My Grade: A-