Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Pixar/Walt Disney Studio Films
Now Showing (in 2D and 3D)

Toy Story, the first computer animated film, was released into cinemas in 1995 and who knew that 15 years later Pixar would have become the most successful animation studio in the world, producing not just the best animated features but some of the best features full stop. I certainly would have bought shares in the company had I known then what I know now (their films have accumulated a worldwide box office in excess of $5b).

I was 20 in 1995 and in my second year of university. I had put aside most childish things but Toy Story allowed anyone, regardless of age (gender, religion), to embrace their inner child. Toy Story 3 begins with Andy, the child from the first two films and owner of the gang of toys we have come to know and love over the past decade and a half, preparing to leave for college. His toys, led by Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and 2IC Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), are anxious: he hasn't played with them for years and with Andy preparing to leave their future is either the attic, donation or the dump.

As luck – or misunderstanding – would have it, the toys are donated to Sunnyside, a day care centre where the promise of being played with forever more sounds too good to refuse. And too good to be true: anyone knows that a place with sunny in the title can't be all sunshine, just ask Sunnydale resident Buffy Summers. But I digress.

Unlike his friends, Woody decides to make his way back to Andy but learns the secrets of Sunnyside from a trio of toys, including a classically trained hedgehog named Mr Prickelpants (delightfully voiced by ex-James Bond Timothy Dalton), belonging to Bonnie, one of the daycare centre's pupils.

So Toy Story 3 becomes a prison escape film, and a little darker in tone than its predecessors. Screenwriter Michael Arndt, an Oscar winner for Little Miss Sunshine, is new to the Pixar fold but the studio's team of directors have ensured that the enterprise has not been compromised; story, and characters with heart, have always been key to the success of Pixar's films and while a sequel to a sequel, and shot in 3D (which I'm assuming has more to do with the bean counters at the House of Mouse than with those at Pixar), Toy Story 3 is a worthy entry in the Pixar canon and an almost perfect end to the trilogy.

There are some people who have never lived in a world without Woody, Buzz, Jessie the cowgirl, Mr and Mrs Potato Head, Rex et al, and saying goodbye won't be easy. Nor will it be for those of us who have known and loved them for 15 years.

It certainly elicited my most emotional response to any of the Toy Story films, and indeed any film this year: I'll admit it, I cried liked a baby for the final 10 or so minutes. For for all its fun and excitement, this third and final installment is about letting go, saying goodbye and, so as not to end on a downer, new beginnings.

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