Commenting on each new Pixar release has to be one of the easiest things ever – the quality is assured at all stages of the production and each one seems to have been produced with the view of producing the best film possible. Toy Story 3 is no exception other than the fact that it’s the final part of what could be viewed as their Year One – anticipation isn’t just that expected of other sequels, here we’re talking about Godfather levels of hope.
Thankfully it doesn’t disappoint. It perhaps isn’t as good as Toy Story 2 was, but the small dip in quality from that film still places it light years ahead of similar threequels. Toy Story 3 treads that fine line between having something new to say (moving on from childhood) to repeating the comedic aspects of the previous films (the Buzz Lightyear confusion joke is taken to new heights of absurdity this time). As such it takes it time to actually get going – the first twenty minutes feel like a re-hash of the first sequel – before it truly hits its stride. Once the main meat of the film begins though it barely lets up the pace in the race to a finish that just comes out of nowhere in terms of its simplicity (we really should see it coming) and sheer emotion.
Emotion is the key word – for all of the high jinks centred around the gangs (reduced in number to focus on just key personnel and indicating that Andy has only held on to those things closest to him) escape from Sunnydale it’s the emotional aspects of the story that are the strongest. We’ve become accustomed to Woody & Buzz’s adventures over the last fifteen years, but we’ve also grown to love them. It’s not only Andy who’s looking to let them go, we the viewer are being told that there will be no more adventures (or at least there won’t be any more films about their adventures) – Pixar are moving on. Early scenes set the tone wonderfully – Andy has now grown up and is one the cusp of going to university and Woody & Co. don’t know how to deal with the fact that they are no longer a part of his life – except of course they are, just not in ways that they can comprehend. By the time we’ve almost reached the finale it’s almost become too much to stand, things get pretty dark before it’s all finished and there’s almost the sense that anything could happen.
Hardly the stuff that kids films are made of.
That’s the beauty of Pixar though, they realise that the audience is universal and thus pitch their films perfectly for everybody (although like Up this seems aimed at a slightly older audience than before). The hi-jinks surrounding their escape provide a superb series of sight gags for kids whilst older viewers will notice the wonderful pastiche of prison movie sequences. Elsewhere Timothy Dalton steals every scene as Mr. Pricklepants, who can only be described as a luvvie hedgehog. Not a minute is wasted, jokes are thrown away in pursuit of the story which remains at the heart of the film.
And then there’s the ending – as noted above it has the potential to be incredibly dark, for a minute I sat thee wondering “They can’t possibly do that…” but then, something miraculous happens and it delivers something both heart-warming and sad at the same time, something that feels almost like the audience’s perfect ending not only to the film but to the series as a whole. It feels as if we’ve come full circle.
Pixar now have their eye on other things – in two years time we’ll get their first live action film with “John Carter of Mars”. In the meantime this could easily be viewed as them closing the book on their first fifteen years with a flourish, it really is that good.