If I had to name the one thing consistently good in cinema within the last fifteen years, one word would come to mind: Pixar. Ever since their first feature film Toy Story the studio has cranked out not only hit after hit, but (dare I say) masterpiece after masterpiece. Even some of their “lesser” entries such as Cars are still better or just as good as almost any other animated film on the market.
With Toy Story 3, Pixar has broken yet another barrier in the entire genre of film; they have created a third film in a trilogy that actually holds up to the masterful first two entries. Francis Ford Coppola can’t even say he’s done that, but I digress.
Toy Story 3 picks up eleven years from where the second film left off. Andy is now 17 and heading off to college. Like with most 17 year olds, Andy hasn’t had much time for his toys in his high school years. Woody, Buzz, and the whole gang live inside of his toy box just waiting to be “played with” once again.
As Andy is packing up for college, he throws Woody in a box marked “college” and the rest of the toys in a bag meant for the attic. However, through one mishap or another, Andy’s mother accidentally mistakes it for trash and attempts to leave it on the curb with the rest of the garbage. Through another series of mishaps, the toys end up breaking out with Sheriff Woody and end up at a children’s day care known as Sunnyside. The catch? This day care is anything but “sunny”.
Sunnyside Day Care turns out to be more like a prison with the cute, cuddly on the outside (incredibly villainous on the inside) Lots-O-Huggin’ Bear running the show. Woody and his gang realize they have to do one thing: get back home to Andy. What ensues is a “prison film” of sorts and becomes one incredibly heartfelt, extremely funny, action-packed adventure that turns out to be one of the best films of the year.
Toy Story 3 starts off on the right foot. The opening sequence (which is a subtle throwback to the first film), involving Andy’s imagination of Woody rescuing a train full of orphans from One-Eyed-Bart (aka Mr. Potato Head), is more thrilling, exciting, and completely engaging than almost any other action film I’ve seen this year.
The comedy in this third installment is also incredibly sharp and seems to be funnier than the previous two films. Moments involving Buzz Lightyear being reset into “Spanish mode” as well as a bit involving Mr. Potato Head using a tortilla to walk around without his plastic potato body are absolutely hysterical.
Finally, Toy Story 3 is not only incredibly emotional but much darker than the other two films as well. Being the final film in the franchise, it wants to say “goodbye” the right way, and indeed it does. Some of the greatest, most profound moments from any Pixar film has come from the story simply unfolding on screen without any dialogue being uttered. Wall-E and Up, anyone? By the end of Toy Story 3, an incredibly emotional scene involving the toys all joining hands had this particular critic on the verge of tears. One of the final scenes of the film involving a simple hesitant facial expression from Andy delivers more realism and genuine sadness than most films dare to achieve.
While Toy Story 3 is not necessarily a perfect film, with its lack of small character moments that the first two had as well as a slightly by-the-book first half, it still is one of the best films of the year and just as marvelous and stunning as its predecessors. It hurts to say goodbye, but Pixar knows just the right way to do it. Toy Story 3 fits perfectly as a bookend to a series of the greatest animated films ever made. Goodbye, Woody. You’re my favorite deputy.
Final Rating: 4.5/5