Toy Story 3 (2010)

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Along with Best Animated Feature (which it will undoubtedly win), I believe Toy Story 3 deserves to be acknowledged with the following awards for 2010:

  1. Most Heartbreaking Final Scene (sorry, Black Swan)
  2. Most Terrifying Villain (Big Baby makes Anton Chigurh look like a cuddly purple bear)
  3. Most Harrowing Scene with a Trash Compactor since Star Wars (after many years with a dearth of Harrowing Scenes with Trash Compactors, this thrilling cinematic threat has returned to the big screen!)
  4. Best Use of Fashion Icon, Michael Keaton (no one wears black and white plaid like he does)
  5. Best Eccentric Tea Party Guests (sorry, Alice in Wonderland)


I saw the original Toy Story film in the theaters the same day I bought Madonna's "The Immaculate Collection'. Kind of an epic day. Both the film and the CD saw me through some tough times, so I made the effort not to kill that feeling by buying Madonna's "Greatest Hits" or seeing Toy Story 2, probably for the best. The release of Toy Story 3, however, was marked as the end of the franchise, and it seemed appropriate to see my childhood friends off. I'd already heard it was pretty sad, so I went alone and cried my eyes out. It's a beautiful farewell... to Andy and Buzz and Woody, to the series, to... well, to a lot of things.

I'm not sure what happened in Toy Story 2, but it must have seriously been irrelevant, because we pretty much pick up where we left off, except 12 or 13 years into the future, and there's a likeable cowgirl now. The toys are still up to their usual hijinks, hooray (!), and we're having fun. But the fun stops cold when Andy begins packing for college, and the future of the toys comes into question. Past this point, I can't discuss the plot anymore. I feel like knowing what happens next takes the fun and adventure out of the film, seeing as a 2nd viewing of the film over Christmas left me bored and listless and unsatisfied, kind of like the way a good joke is never as good as it was before you knew the punch line.

I guess the re-watchability factor of a movie weighs in pretty heavily when I critique a film, and this one has zero. But safe to say, if I only had the one viewing experience of the film under my belt, it would have been my second favorite film of the year (see Black Swan).

The film is lovely despite its largeness, gut-wrenchingly sad despite its humor, beautiful despite its computer animation, and brilliant despite its place in the Toy Story cannon. The dialogue is smart without being over-witty, and the ending is... appropriate. In fact, the film in its entirety is appropriate, and perhaps that's the highest compliment I can pay to the film. As my Mom would say, and did say in our viewing together, "Look! All the clouds look the same!". And they do. There are no snakes in these boots.


Toy Story 3 is another tight scripted gorgeously animated Pixar creation. Once again, Pixar has made a movie filled with funny one-liners and a formulaic storyline about funny friends in a specific world who travel together overcoming deadly obstacles to reach a destination in which they discover something greater about themselves and we cry, but we feel warm and fuzzy.

But beyond a simple formula, this movie feels a lot like a remake of Disney's 1987 film The Brave Little Toaster in which a group of appliances, who's owner was once a little boy, go off on an adventure after their owner gets older and goes to college and leaves them behind though he loves them. That film also climaxed in a junkyard where the main characters had to escape a trash compactor. They also meet ominous other appliances much like the toys of Toy Story 3 (and 2 for that matter) meet ominous other toys. The main difference with The Brave Little Toaster is that we have more time with the characters within a single movie and the story feels more complete. Also, the scale of The Brave Little Toaster feels grander. With Toy Story 3, we have the advantage of getting to know the main characters in previous movies while many new delightful characters are introduced. For the most part, I felt Toy Story 3 was equal to but no greater than its two previous parts. It just felt played out. The only really great thing about this movie for me was its ending. It was the most moving and well-played ending I think I've gotten from a Pixar and it tied together all 3 parts very well. On a separate note, I must say Randy Newman's newest song is his most obnoxious.