Summer Film Series – Vol. 8, No. 3: TOY STORY 3
On this blog I regularly proclaim the pure genius of the Pixar dynasty and never moreso than when I speak of the Toy Story films. In my eyes they will always be the standard by which all other animation (and technologically advanced films) are measured simply because Toy Story was the first of its kind and changed the face of movies forever. Digital had always looked digital before Woody and Buzz arrived on the scene, but after that moment just fifteen short years ago, a whole new world opened before our entertainment-loving eyes. I hold Toy Story dear for very personal reasons, as well, including the fact that it has crossed the boundaries of four generations in my immediate family alone and endeared us all to its world of lifelike toys with the biggest hearts we’ve ever known. And while I love witnessing their continuing saga, I honestly didn’t believe that the third installment could truly be “the best of them all,” as so many moviegoers proclaimed. But I was willing to have that proven to me, so I went to the cinema with a completely open mind and open heart, giddy with excitement for what was to come.
Toy Story 3 is a gift to us who have walked with Pixar and the toys since the beginning. It is a rousing adventure story for kids and a love letter to older fans. In a word, it offers “closure” on the franchise and on the relationships we have built with these rich characters over the past decade. The script uses college-bound Andy to take us through the emotional release — and emotional it is, as entire audiences have been heard weeping during the final act of the film… myself included! — and it provides a beautiful portrait of letting go with the assurance that all will be well in the future. Yet, before we reached that poignant farewell, the ride that took us there was supremely satisfying and contained some of the most brilliantly crafted scenes of any Pixar film to date. True to form, the creative minds behind the film also placed Hollywood homage at exactly the right moments and with perfect finesse. I’m particularly fond of a “prison” scene that adapts Clifton James’s monologue from Cool Hand Luke. I believe I shed as many tears during those moments of laughter as I did in the heart-wrenching scene at the end. And it is these kinds of scenes that stay with me. From Woody’s cry to “Save the children!” whereupon we see a line of crazy-haired Troll dolls trapped on a speeding train, to Buzz Lightyear’s transformation into a Spanish lothario, Toy Story 3 filled the treasure trove of memorable moments to delightful capacity. I couldn’t have been happier!
I didn’t leave the cinema declaring this third film the best of the series — I still hold the first one so dear and find the second one better and better with each successive viewing — but I did find myself fulfilled by the experience. The saga does seem complete to me. I would always welcome more well-crafted tales of the gang, of course, but these three main stories seem to comprise a complete odyssey. Like Andy, I was able to send them on their way with confidence that my time with them had concluded as it should. Now I look forward to reliving the entire tale again and again in the future, and just maybe I’ll get the chance to introduce these beloved characters to yet another generation some day. And I can’t imagine they won’t be loved as dearly.
image via Rotten Tomatoes and linked to source