At this point, I think it's safe to say that Pixar may just be the greatest film studio in history. Simply put, Pixar has added yet another classic masterwork into their catalogue. That may sound like something from broken record at this point, but when a studio is as consistent as Pixar, how can one not sound repetitive when giving them praise?
Toy Story 3 manages to blend all aspects of what makes a great film into one incredible package. Outrageously funny, sweeping adventure, and heartbreakingly profound, Toy Story 3 builds upon the themes and successes of the first two films and not only matches their wit, charm, and emotion, but, believe it or not, surpasses them.
I won't divulge into plot details, as not only would that be a disservice to just how well the story works. The setup is simple enough. Andy is all grown up now, and leaving for college. The toys find themselves in a predicament. Andy has outgrown them, so what now? After a hilarious mishap involving some mislabeled boxes and trash bags, the toys end up being donated to Sunnyside Daycare, which at first appears to be a great retirement home for toys. But of course, things are not all what they seem. Soon, the toys decide they need to break out.
Everyone involved is back in fine form here. Randy Newman's score is thrilling. The original voice cast is all back in top shape, with the exception of Jim Varney (Slinky Dog), who sadly passed away in the time between Toy Story 2 and 3. The attention to detail here is simply astounding, as is par for the course with Pixar. Hell, even John Morris, now 23 years old, is back to voice Andy 11 years later.
In many ways, what makes the story for Toy Story 3 work so well is the way it seamlessly blends and bends genres. There's a great prison break film in here, and it meshes perfectly with the comedic and melancholy meditation on love, loss, and friendship. At it's core, Toy Story 3 is a film that, while it is definitely family entertainment, it never once panders to it's younger audience. Like all Pixar films before it, it delves into deeper, more mature themes, challenging audiences of all ages while remaining wildly entertaining. That a film could get us to care so much about hunks of plastic and have better developed characters than 90% of their live action counterparts is something of a miracle.
By the time the credits roll, you'll find yourself reduced to tears, just as I was, as well as everyone else in the theatre. Simply put, I haven't been this profoundly moved by a film in a good while, with only How To Train Your Dragon affecting me on a similar level. A while back I said that How to Train Your Dragon was far and away my favorite film of the year. At this point, Toy Story 3 may just have taken over my number one spot. Shit, now I'm crying again.
In a weak summer and even weaker year so far for cinema, Toy Story 3, and Pixar as a whole, reminds us of why we love movies in the first place. It's not only a tremendous film in its own right, it's an emotionally satisfying and thrilling conclusion to what can be safely called one of the most beloved franchises in cinema history. Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang will be missed. So long partners.