Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Movie Review- Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 came out on DVD last week and it is the first non-original Pixar movie to come out since Toy Story 2 which was released back in 1999. I've been spoiled with so many brilliant, original Pixar stories for the past 10 years that I was kind of sad when I heard their line up for the next few years is going to be mostly sequels. Regardless, I was still very excited for Toy Story 3. I saw the first Toy Story movie back when I was just a kid (I think I was around 8) when Andy (the owner of the toys) was just a kid as well. In Toy Story 3, Andy is off to college and I had just graduate from college a year ago. The Disney/Pixar marketing team knew this movie was going to appeal my age demographic and did such a wonderful job marketing towards it. Typically, animated movies focus on capturing the family demographic but this film was also directing itself at college aged kids. For example, flyers looking to hire Pizza Planet drivers were posted all around college campuses and several campuses pre-screened the first 50 minutes of the film for its students.

Pixar knew folks my age would embrace this film- why? Rhere are several Disney sequels of films those my age saw as a children; for example
The Little Mermaid 3, yet no one gets hyped up about it. What made this movie different from the typical bad Disney movie sequel was it did what they would never dare to do. This film was about change and embracing it. This film is about Andy growing up and leaving the toys for once and for all. If this movie was helmed by DisneyToons Studios (the studio that makes the bad direct to DVD Disney movies), they would have had Andy stay 10 forever. It hits a soft spot for us 20-some year olds in a sense that it takes us back and reminds us of the time when we were younger and full of imagination. It's also an emotional movie for our parents too cause it reminds them of how their children have grown or how they will grow up.

Alright, enough of my mushy blabbering. So the film itself is again about Andy leaving for college and the toys are worrying what is to become of them. In an accidental mix up, the toys end up getting shipped off to a day care called Sunnyside. When they first arrive, the place seems like the retirement home of their dreams. A teddy bear named Lots-O-Huggin Bear (Lotso) acts like a warden of the day care and assures the toys that they will never suffer the heartache of losing their owners again and there will always be kids to play with them. It's not long until our toys realize that this daycare really is too good to be true. The toys are placed into a classroom with very young children that don't understand how to properly play with the toys and are basically putting the toys through living hell. When asked if they could leave to a different classroom with older kids, Lotso imprisons the toys and it becomes clear that the daycare is more like a heavily guarded prison where no toy is allowed to leave.

This film is very much a prison break film. I love both prison films and Pixar films so the two of them melded together was better than anything I could ask for. It was a lot of fun watching the toys escape from this "prison" with an intricately laid out plan that Woody managed to whip together in less than a day. An old Fischer-Price phone tips off Woody on how security is run at the daycare during lights-off hours. The phone had this type of old film-noir voice to it which I loved; it was one of those small touches that Pixar loves to throw into the mix of their movies. One small complaint about the movie I've heard from some dudes out there was a particular scene where a Ken doll models off a bunch of outfits. Pixar is such a classy studio, why would they put something like that in the movie? I personally didn't see what the big deal was over that scene, because as a girl, the only thing I did with my Barbie dolls as a kid was have them put on fashion shows with the millions of outfits I collected. I gotta tell you, the folks over at Pixar really did their research with several of these toys, especially Barbie and Ken.

A lot of new toy characters were also introduced in this film. We get the toys at the daycare who work under the manipulative Lotso and help enforce his many "prison" rules. A particularly freaky one that stands out is the character Big Baby. Big Baby is basically Lotso's henchman and is pretty fucking scary. Think back to the first toy story when we were introduced to that baby head with claws- I remember how scared I was of that thing when I was a kid so I can imagine how kids nowadays must have felt towards Big Baby. Other new toy characters are Bonnie's toys. Bonnie is a young girl at the daycare who is a lot like the young Andy from the first two movies. Bonnie's toys include a porcupine, a doll, a unicorn, a dinosaur much like Rex, and Totoro!! The Totoro cameo was one of my favorite things about this movie cause I only own about 100 Totoro dolls myself. I love all the new characters and I'm super excited to see them showing up in toy stores as Christmas approaches. I'll be sure to buy myself a Buttercup plush!

The film ends with such a perfect ending to such a perfect trilogy. The ending shot basically emulates the first shot in the first movie. The end is really a bittersweet one but I wouldn't change it any differently. Going back to my original point, it's all about change and coming to terms with it and embracing it. Watching this film made me go back and remember all my old toys and reminded me how much I use to love them. I actually felt guilty about abandoning my old toys after seeing this movie, but I didn't feel too, too bad knowing that I donated them and didn't throw them away to get shipped off to a junk yard somewhere. This brings up another point. This movie is a lot darker than the first two. The first two, we have the toys worrying about being replaced or sold in a yard sale; this movie we actually have the toys believing that they could die! (Watch this clip, it will make you cry). The Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich was once asked about the fact that Pixar movies seem to get darker and darker with each movie, and he answered that it's not something the studio is purposefully doing; as the filmmakers at the studio get older, they experience many new things in life so their view towards world is always changing and that is reflected in their movies.

My final verdict: Toy Story 3 marks the Toy Story franchise to be the best trilogy ever made! I recommend going back and watching the first two if you haven't seen them in awhile, before picking up the third one. Though the first two are older, they're still two of the best animated films out there. Have a tissue box ready when you do get around to watching the third one. You will be shocked over how emotional you'll get over some non-existent toys. That's right. Pixar is just that good they can make grownups cry over dolls and action figures. Oh I love you Pixar.

Final Score- 10/10

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