July 1, 2010
Toy Story 3 (2010) ****1/2
Directed by Lee Unkrich
Toy Story 3 (2010)- Though it relies on too many jokes and sequences from the first two, this is still a wonderful movie! ****1/2 out of 5
Toy Story 3 has been out for nearly three weeks now, and logging onto its IMDB page, I'm impressed that the film now ranks at number six on their top 250 films of all time list as voted on by website visitors. That list is specifically designed so that fanboy excitement over something like Kick-Ass doesn't have a crazy high ranking because of nerds voting multiple times on different computers before even seeing the movie in the first place. Toy Story 3 has been able to penetrate these safeguards, and after seeing the film, I completely understand why. It delivers in every conceivable way, which is a historic feat in itself considering that the original and its sequel are pretty much universally hailed as two of the greatest animated movies of all time.
Unkrich and the people at Pixar put the pressure on themselves when they decided to do a Toy Story 3, and they upped the ante when they decided to release it in 3D, a gutsy move considering how timeless the Toy Story franchise is, and how trendy and seemingly fleeting the popularity of 3D appears. In this review, or any review of any movie for that matter, I won't be commenting on the effectiveness of the 3D itself. I only have vision in one eye, so as technology stands right now, I can't experience that third dimension on screen. With confidence, though, I will state that the 2D version of Toy Story 3 proves itself a worthy addition to one of the great movie franchises.
Yet, sadly, despite its overall greatness, it's not quite as monumentally rewarding as its predecessors. The same themes of mortality, friendship, loyalty and the innocence of childhood versus the difficulties of the outside world come across once again just like they did in the first two films. There's not a whole lot of new thematic territory explored, and the structure of exposition, conflict, conflict resolution also exists once again. There's an extended sequence right at the end of the film which is likely to bring tears to many viewers' eyes, myself included, which adds a bit of novelty, and it's executed perfectly. That being said, the jokes and character conflicts are just a little bit familiar. Also, there's a huge action climax which is resolved by three characters that are written with a one-note gimmick that I didn't really find all that funny in the original Toy Story. The transition between action and emotional payoff in the final sequence felt a little bit rushed.
All that being said, Toy Story 3 is extremely funny, exciting and entertaining. It might be all too easy to forget Tom Hanks' brilliant voice work in all three films considering that he's one of the greatest actors of his generation, but his performance as Woody has been 100% integral to that character's development and success. His voice carries a sense of authority and honor without coming off too goody-two-shoes. Overall, the voice performances in all three films are among the very best in animated film history. In this regard, the quality in the third installment at least matches the first two.
Toy Story 3 had a lot to live up to, and it met the challenge with room to spare. As a (probable) farewell to this glorious trilogy, everyone involved should be really proud of the fruits of their labors. Woody, Buzz and company will undoubtedly be lifelong friends of mine, and clearly, I'm not alone in this sentiment.