|Fig 1 - Toy Story 3 Poster|
I have a constant trepidation in reviewing 'new' Pixar films (which for me is probably anything post-Cars (2006)) as I worry that the lens of my childhood will somehow invoke an instinct to disagree with them. However, I really enjoy Brave (2012) and have found a lot to like in films such as Wall-E (2008) and Up (2009). But I'm sad to say that, in spite of the seven years between now and seeing it in theaters, I still have a lot of mixed feelings about Toy Story 3.
On the one hand, the film does a good job of rounding off the series nicely (although there is another sequel coming, so that's somewhat defunct). The voice-acting is as fresh as ever, with great performances from Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and a plethora of others, including the late great Don Rickles. The visuals have clearly jumped forward since the first film, which gives us an abundance of colour and life to populate what was once a sparingly-produced atmosphere due to technical limitations. However, in the end, what Toy Story 3 does is recycle elements that worked in the previous films and, ultimately, repackages them to capitalise on the nostalgia of it's following. I say this with a heavy heart, as I am a great lover of Toy Story (1995) and it's sequel. But there is just something hollow to this installment that I can't quite seem to grasp.
|Fig 2 - Toy Story 3 - Woody and the gang|
There are many characters in this film. Too many characters. A reported 302 characters to be precise. Of course, this number likely accounts for all the daycare children, various adults and 'background' toys involved. However, it is a number indicative of the fact that the film appears to make only plot-developing characters a necessity. For example, Mr. Potato Head is the only one who can fit under a door at one point (admittedly, in pieces which then allow him to possess a tortilla - makes you wonder what else he can take control of?) and then becomes the focus. Then there's the whole 'Barbie/Ken' arc, which is admittedly responsible for a lot of the film's humour. But it appears to be there only to have Ken help Andy's toys in the latter half, leaving many of the other 'bad' toys by the wayside. Other than Ken, I didn't even catch any of Lotso's cronies names. Why would the monkey in the CCTV room even help Lotso? We're never told. Nor are we told whether or not those cameras are even recording, because if they are, the Sunnyside employees must think the place is extremely haunted. No wonder they don't put the toys away at night...
Furthermore, I must add that the soundtrack is noticeably sparse here. It's difficult not to make comparisons when the first film had such an auditory impact. Hell, even Toy Story 2 (1999) had Sarah McLachlan's "When She Loved Me" over Jessie's backstory. What's even more bizarre is that the film won an Oscar for Randy Newman's "We Belong Together", a song which plays out over the end credits and then, as much as I love Newman's work, becomes completely forgotten.
Overall, I think the film works as a perfectly fine send-off for the franchise. Though I do have my reservations, I don't think it's a bad film. However, it certainly feels like a glossier, more expansive repackaging of the first two films that beats you over the head with callbacks and sentimentality. I wasn't sorry to see it go and I'm not sure I'll be happy to see it return.
Fig. 1 Toy Story 3 Poster (2010) From: Toy Story 3 - Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Fig. 2 Toy Story 3 Screenshot (2010) From: Toy Story 3 - Directed by: Lee Unkrich