Apr 27, 2011

24FPS Top 100: No. 60

60: TOY STORY 3 [2010]
DIR: Lee Unkrich
If you need to ask then I really don't have anything to say to you. For my money the Toy Story series is the great film series of our time, perhaps of all time, three films that each managed to be incredibly successful as popular entertainment, but also to have intelligence, resonance and real emotional content, all wrapped up in what ostensibly is 'just' a kids film.

This third in the series is perhaps the most adult; at its core it is about aging. Both the aging of the toys, who are essentially shipped off, albeit by accident, to a retirement home (in the form of a daycare centre) early in the film, and the aging of their, owner Andy, who is going to college and no longer needs Woody and Buzz in the way he once did. It's a sad an elegiac tale. However the film is also joyful, as much about the act of passing things on to the next generation as it is anything else (apt, as this film will have brought a whole new set of kids to the world of these characters), and as concerned with being a rollicking entertainment as it is in telling a genuinely adult story.

The animation is gorgeous and flowing, a real step up from the first two films, which now look a little dated, however the updating of the design is subtle enough that these remain identifiably the same characters as we saw in 1995 and 1999, just refined versions of them.

The action sequences are wonderful, and deftly combine thrills, laughs and emotion, especially as the film builds first to its great escape inspired daycare breakout and then to its phenomenal centrepiece, as the toys desperately try to escape a furnace in a scene that is both visually stunning and tremendously moving.

The characterisation is dead on, both in terms of animation and voice acting, be it the returning Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack, slipping effortlessly back inside the skins of Woody, Buzz and Jessie or newcomers like Ned Beatty as tragic, strawberry scented, villain Lotso, Michael Keaton as Ken (who has some brilliant exchanges with Jodi Benson's Barbie) and cameo players like Timothy Dalton, hilarious as method acting hedgehog Mr Pricklepants, and Pixar animator Bud Luckey as sad clown Chuckles. I could go on all day, such is the depth of quality.

You can feel how important this film was to the people involved as you watch it, it seemed impossible that it could live up to the legacy of the first two after so long, but Toy Story 3 is a perfect closer for the series, retaining everything that is great about the first two films and bringing the story full circle in a scene that has moved me to tears every time I've seen it.

Collectively, Pixar's films are proof that great children's films don't have to talk down to kids, or throw in gags hey won't get as a sop to parents (or indeed bore parents), Toy Story 3 is perhaps the finest expression of that, an intelligent and complex film that also manages to be about as entertaining as you could wish for.


There really are too many, but these, from the last scene, mean the most to me.

Andy: [opens box, and takes out Jessie] This is Jessie, the roughest, toughest cowgirl in the whole west. She loves critters, but none more than her best pal, Bullseye!
[pulls out Bullseye, and makes a whinnying sound]
Andy: Yee-haw!
[holds the two tows out to Bonnie]
Andy: Here.
Bonnie: [shyly walks over, and takes Jessie and Bullseyes, a smile on her face]
Andy: [pulls out Rex] This is Rex! The meanest, most terrifying dinosaur who ever lived! RAWR! RAWR!
Bonnie: [recoils a little, but the giggles, and takes Rex too]
Andy: [pulls out Mr and Mrs Potato Head] The Potato Heads: Mr and Mrs. You gotta keep them together because they're madly in love.
[Andy sets them down in front of Bonnie, before pulling out Slinky Dog]
Andy: Now Slinky here, is as loyal as any dog you could want.
[Andy then pulls out Hamm]
Andy: And Hamm, he'll keep your money safe, but he's also one of the most dastardly villains of all time: Evil Dr Porkchop!
[Andy then places the two with their friends, before pulling out the three aliens]
Andy: These little dudes are from a strange alien world: Pizza Planet!
[Andy then sets them down before reaching into his box again]
Andy: And this, is Buzz Lightyear, the coolest toy ever! Look! He can fly, oh, and shoot lasers!
[Andy pops open Buzz's wings, and fires his laser]
Andy: He's sworn to protect the galaxy from the Evil Emperor Zurg!
Bonnie: [Bonnie takes Buzz from Andy, and presses one of the buttons on his spacesuit]
Buzz Lightyear: To Infinity, and Beyond!
Andy: Now, you gotta promise to take good care of these guys. They, mean, alot to me.

Andy: Now Woody, he's been my pal for as long as I can remember. He's brave, like a cowboy should be. And kind, and smart. But the thing that makes Woody special, is he'll never give up on you... ever. He'll be there for you, no matter what.

Andy: [taking a last look at his toys before he heads off to college] Thanks, guys.

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