Remembering the Childhood of a Generation

The Toy Story films have always held a particularly special place in my heart. The original Toy Story was one of the first movies that I saw in the theater as a child. It introduced my psyche to the obsession of watching  a movie over and over again but also to a new appreciation for the inanimate structures of plastic, cloth, and metal that slept in my toy box waiting to be played with. All of a sudden my imagination was opened further than before and the adventures that I crafted with my toys and action figures became the best that I have ever had. Even after watching the film as an adult, I do not see the Woody and Buzz as symbols of Andy Davis’ childhood. I see them as mine, just as millions of other children that grew up with this movie in their favorite stack of VHS tapes do. When Toy Story 2 came out, of course I saw it the day that it opened with my mom. I enjoyed it as a kid because it was a thoroughly funny movie. Even now I’ll pop it in to listen to some of the fantastic jokes that Hamm has with Rex. However, the themes of the second movie never really held true to what the series was about. Immortality is a key theme in Toy Story 2 which is a bit strange for a movie aimed at the children who were so heavily impacted by the original. Over a decade has passed since the last Toy Story film and now all those young children that adored these movies are grown up. Does Toy Story 3 keep those childhoods alive?

Toy Story 3 is arguably the best film in the series and the best film to come out in 2010 thus far. Though Toy Story 3 may or may not be your favorite film in the franchise, you can not help but appreciate how robust it is. The team at Pixar not only created an entertaining movie for children but also crafted an immense tale simply about the progression of life and all the good and bad things one is going to experience as they make their way through it. You might find it irresponsible that Pixar would put such an adult story into children’s entertainment. However, Toy Story 3 was NOT made for the youth of today. Ages 5-10 will simply not be able to grasp the meat of the material that is offered. There is no moral here that leads the themes of the movie that children will take home and appreciate. Pixar made this film for all the kids who grew up on this franchise that are now mature men and women. Andy Davis is now a man going off to college and his toys are constantly left in a toy box, forgotten. Throughout the two hour adventure of Woody and Buzz, we grow to understand the darkest aspects of existence as they have no reason for living other than to give children happiness. Even though they understand this is their essence, they are having a hard time leaving Andy, the child they helped mold into a man. It is almost like they see themselves as parent figures, which makes you contemplate the influence of toys in your past. For this reason and many others, Toy Story 3 is the most personal and the most intelligent CGI animated film ever created.

Even though I usually supply a small plot summary of the movie I am reviewing in this spot, I will not be doing it for this film. I saw the movie without watching any footage besides the initial teaser trailer and I believe that is the way it should be. The more you know about the film’s details, the less of an impact it might have on you. All I will say is that this is the largest and most dangerous mission that the toys have ever taken and things may not go the way you want them to, but that’s life if I’m not mistaken.

YAY:

  • Screenwriter Michael Ardnt and the rest of the Pixar executives have crafted one of the greatest stories ever told by an animated feature. Rather than rehash any narrative elements from the previous films, they create their own. This is basically the swan song for Woody, Buzz and the rest of the crew and it is POWERFUL. Do not be surprised if you are crying a little bit in the last five minutes.
  • The new toys are a fantastic addition to the mythos of the series and there are a lot of them. When the gang leaves their house, we are introduced to a collection of toys that have not at all been in past installments in look and in character. There is one particular baby toy that is absolutely frightening. I thought it was one of the creepiest things to see lately, including the horror films I’ve seen in the past year. Pixar, you think you could step out of the playpen sometime in the future? I would love to see an action or horror film helmed by you guys.
  • Let me get this out in the open. Woody gives the best lead performance from this year and probably last year as well. There, I said it. An animated character gives more range in this film than any other actor in a movie. Tom Hanks gives his best vocal performance, but animators around the world should admire the team that constructed Woody to be such a powerhouse here. Because of this alone, I think Hollywood and film critics should rethink their opinions of voice actors and animated characters.
  • Though it may not be as ridiculous as the A-Team, the action set-pieces are awesome. There is a sense of urgency and despair around every corner as the gang tries to capture, escape, and fight their way back to Andy. The opening sequence will let you know exactly what I mean as it is one of the best parts of the film.
  • Sorry to bring this up again but the ending of Toy Story 3 is absolute perfection. I could not ask for a better ending to my most cherished kids’ series.  In a lot of ways, the ending is a farewell of some sorts to the people that did grow up with Woody and Buzz while also telling the children in the audience, “just like we were there for those older folks crying in the next seat over, we will be there for you.” In a world where Twilight and absolute garbage reigns in youth entertainment, seeing my favorite toys extend their hand to the next generation was one of the most touching moments I have ever experienced in the theater in my entire life.

NAY:

  • This movie is hilarious, but there are one or two fart jokes that just make you turn your head real quick like a dog that hears a weird noise.

While I refuse to personally say that Toy Story 3 is the best in the series, it truly might be. However, the first film will always be better as it holds a special place in my heart as a film that allowed myself to learn what friendship actually means and the importance of exploring your imagination with your favorite toys. Toy Story 3 is one of the best films to come out in a long time and is an absolute must-see. If you have been a fan since you were a kid then you are in for an experience of a lifetime, but this is a movie that earns its rating for general audiences as everyone should see this movie.

On 3D: I saw this film in 2D and saw absolutely no reason at all to see it in 3D. So unless you are a 3D junkie, see it in 2D so you can save yourself a couple of bucks and enjoy the show!

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