Toy Story 3 reviews

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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:17 am

To answer of a couple of your comments and/or questions.

I think the escape motif is perfect for the Toy Story films. They are obviously taking cues from serial westerns and with a lead character like Woody, it does make perfect sense, so I'm willing to give some slack there.

I'm certain this will win the Franchise its first competitive Oscar. The first two had no Animated Feature category to compete in. As for a Best Picture nomination, I've long said that the expansion to 10 is good for three entities: Pixar, Focus Features and Edward Zwick.

I think this year could bear out on all three. Pixar has Toy Story 3, Focus has both Somewhere and The American and Zwick has Love and Other Drugs.

I'm curious how that's going to play out.
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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:49 am

Splendid. I don't know how much longer these folks can continue to hit it out of the ballpark every time, but considering that I say that with each new film, there's no reason to start doubting them now. I don't think Toy Story 3 tops the first two films -- for me the apex of Pixar's filmography -- but it's a very worthy finale to the series (and I do hope it's the finale -- as much as I've loved these characters, at this point Toy Story 4 would be really pushing it.)

I was emotional almost from the beginning, with the film's opening videos of Andy playing with his toys, and growing too old for them. For me this moment struck a unique chord. We've all had toys we've outgrown, but I'm at the age where I actually HAD Woody and Buzz toys -- toys which, of course, I outgrew. So this film hit home for me in an extra special way.

Most of the second act is pure rollicking pleasure. Barbie and Ken were a hoot, a lot of the set pieces (the opening western spoof, the noirish bit with Chuckles the Clown, and of course the escape from Sunnyside) were, as always, marvelously mounted, and a lot of the new, richly designed characters were welcome additions to this memorable gaggle of characters.

I will say that, perhaps understandably, the film does feel more familiar than most Pixar efforts. This is a world we've grown accustomed to over two films and fifteen years, and so it doesn't feel as fresh and exciting as the new environments we were introduced to in films like Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. or WALL-E. And the film does settle into an escape mode narrative that Pixar has used on more than one occasion (both earlier Toy Stories, Finding Nemo). Plus, the child-growing-too-old-for-toys theme has been mined before, in the great "When She Loved Me" sequence of Toy Story 2.

But I think all of these minor concerns take a back seat to the sheer pleasure of the narrative, and the visual wow of the animation, which continues to sparkle with excitingly imagined details across every inch of the frame.

And then there's the finale. The sequence in the incinerator was exceptionally handled -- I honestly wondered if our heroes really were going to make it out of that one -- and the image of all the characters holding hands as they face an uncertain future made for a lovely, heartfelt moment.

But even THAT was nothing compared to the film's final scene, which reduced me to an emotional wreck. It's astonishing to me that these filmmakers have made us care so much about the bond between a boy and his toys, but they have, and I don't think I've wept so much at a film since...well, at least since Up. And the scene really builds in a great way -- every time I didn't think I could get any more emotional, the film found a way to pull more tears from my ducts. I just about lost it at "So long, partner."

Mister Tee, I think your question about whether or not this third sequel can triumph in Animated Feature has an easy answer: yes. Given the big box office, and the emotional effect the film will likely have on people, something earth-shattering would have to come along to knock it from its perch, and I don't see something like that on the horizon. The real irony is that, should the film win, it'll be a sixth Animated Feature trophy for Pixar, but still not one for John Lasseter, the man as responsible as any for his company's outsize success.

At this point, I think a better question to ask is if Toy Story 3 can overcome both its animated status AND its sequel hurdle to nab a Best Picture nomination in an expanded field.

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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:06 am

I still think Lord of the Rings is a better trilogy and I don't know if the Trois Couleurs trilogy counts as sequential or not, but it's also a better grouping than the Toy Stories.
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Postby Sabin » Mon Jun 21, 2010 12:45 am

I meant sequential installments, which I believe only The Human Condition fits the proper bill. I haven't seen it. That's my fault.
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Postby dws1982 » Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:20 pm

Sabin wrote:The Toy Story movies hold up, and news that the third is not better or worse but simply worthy of existence begs the question until Linkater reunites with Hawke & Delpy, is this the greatest trilogy ever?

The Human Condition. Rossellini's War Trilogy. Ozu's Noriko Trilogy. Ford's Cavalry Trilogy.

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Postby Sabin » Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:13 pm

Toy Story 1 was the most jubilant I left the movie theater in my filmic infancy. My parents, sister, and I all sat on opposite ends of the crowded Cine Capri theater in Arizona (largest in the Southwest!) and came back together all smiles, just ear to ear. I rode my bike to see it again the next day. The film is a watershed! What I still love about the film is that it is so goddamn corny and snappy in its comic sensibilities. Whereas Shrek et al grow more tiresome and smug as the years go on, the characters of Toy Story are exuberantly neurotic and unhip, all occupying a similar headspace as those of Arrested Development. And the jokes are as manifold as the stakes. The narrative of Toy Story is ridiculously efficient. The miracle of PIXAR is how its films (at their best) appear to exist effortlessly on the screen, whereas in fact they are the most labored products of their respective year. Toy Story doesn't have the pathos of its sequel, Monsters, Inc., or WALL-E, or the astonishing en masse spectacles of animation like A Bug's Life, Finding Nemo, or Up, but it just seems like a minor miracle that is anything but.

Toy Story 2 is a film of ghosts. As a kid, I wondered what sadness lie ahead for their toys to be forgotten? The creators are as rooted in childhood neuroses as I were apparently because the film is devastating. The success of any multi-layered narrative is in how it sways you from one end to another. Toy Story 2 is about a toy who ponders the finite vs. the eternal. I'm not joking. Woody's debate is whether or not he will resign himself to mortality. Who hasn't?!? And because this is PIXAR, there is a respect and desire for fulfillment of their audience's expectations. The second Buzz Lightyear is perhaps the most fantastically derivative joke I can remember, one that earns its existence gloriously. It is the deeper emotional experience because there is no moment in the first that attempts to dwell. It's far too content to Wow...but in all fairness, that it is; and in no way does that make it the more shallow experience.

The Toy Story movies hold up, and news that the third is not better or worse but simply worthy of existence begs the question: until Linkater reunites with Hawke & Delpy, is this the greatest trilogy ever?
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby OscarGuy » Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:56 am

Yeah. definitely the opposite. I thought there was more heart and emotional resonance in Toy Story 2 and felt Toy Story felt like a ploy for child audiences. Though, I really should rewatch it. I also want to watch A Bug's Life again. I love the movie and really want to see if it measures up to my memories.
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Postby rudeboy » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:43 am

OscarGuy wrote:I may have to re-watch the original, but am I the only one who was not that blown away by the original? I loved the sequel, but the original is just "meh" for me...at least from my current recollection of when I saw it when it first came out.

Reverse for me. Toy Story is a wall-to-wall joy, while the first sequel - for me - was too manufactured, with too little heart. Pixar can go either way for me, so I'll approach the second sequel with caution.

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Postby Sabin » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:38 am

I'd probably watch it again.
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Postby OscarGuy » Wed Jun 16, 2010 11:05 pm

I may have to re-watch the original, but am I the only one who was not that blown away by the original? I loved the sequel, but the original is just "meh" for me...at least from my current recollection of when I saw it when it first came out.
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Postby Sabin » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:38 pm

Greatest trilogy ever? Gleeb thinks so with his "A" review.

...

You won't be alone if you go to see Toy Story 3 with ginormous expectations. After 15 years, the original Toy Story remains — to me — the most ticklish, delightful, and transporting of all Pixar films; its menagerie of innocently devoted, jabbering bedroom toys has become as beloved a part of the American pop culture family as the Simpsons or the Seven Dwarfs. Walking into this second sequel, I knew what I wanted: to be carried away, yet again, by the antic charm of Woody the noble, common-sense cowboy (voiced by Tom Hanks with his trademark acerbic snap), the irresistibly self-adoring action figure Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), the cranky Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), the mouse-that-roared dinosaur Rex (Wallace Shawn), the squeaky-cool alien LGMs, and the rest of the gang. I yearned to be dazzled and touched by the speed and repartee, and by action scenes that have a kiddie Indiana Jones ingenuity. I wasn't disappointed. Yet even with the bar raised high, Toy Story 3 enchanted and moved me so deeply I was flabbergasted that a digitally animated comedy about plastic playthings could have this effect.

Andy, the boy owner of our toy pals, is now all grown up and about to head off to college, which leaves the toys feeling like relics. All they want is to be played with; that's how they're made. Will they now be stowed in the attic — a slightly depressing if still acceptable fate? Or will they (gulp) be thrown out? When Andy's mom mistakes an attic-bound trash bag full of them for, well, garbage, they end up being carted off to a day-care center.

Upon arrival, they meet a new batch of playthings, who look like they belong on the Island of Misfit Toys. They also meet the stuffed animal who runs the place, a drawling Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear named Lotso (Ned Beatty), who explains that they will now be played with every day by an eager crop of kids. It sounds a little too good to be true — and it is. Besides, they'll no longer be Andy's toys. They know, in their synthetic joints, that they're being put out to pasture, and the awareness that they are not wanted creeps up on them, and us, like a giant swelling teardrop. All of a sudden, a Pixar movie has the poignance of a Tennessee Williams play, and that sense of fragility — of once-loved, now-outdated toys fighting for dignity and survival — haunts the entire movie.

Yet Toy Story 3 isn't soggy. It's as madly mischievous and inventive as Toy Story and its sequel, from the mushroom cloud of a Barrel of Monkeys that caps the film's Wild West fantasy prelude to the brilliantly skewed suspense sequences that transform the day-care center into the set for an elaborate, child's-play version of a prison-escape thriller. (When a Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone started to talk like a film-noir informant, I knew I was in movie heaven.) Toy Story 3 represents a virtuoso performance by the Pixar team, led by director Lee Unkrich (the codirector of Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo). I think it's the studio's greatest achievement since The Incredibles, and — just maybe — since the original Toy Story.

The beauty of the Toy Story films is their special, two-tiered vantage. We experience most of the action from a toy's-eye view. But we're always reminded that they're living in a much bigger universe than they know — that they're characters and objects at the same time. That's why they're never more winning, or psychologically rich, than when they flaunt their (deluded) egos. Buzz gets so full of himself this time that he turns into a Latin lover, literally speaking Spanish when he's reprogrammed. Woody's tug of valor and vulnerability has never been more affecting, and Lotso makes a memorable heavy: exquisitely devious, with a Dixie-senator courtliness and a backstory worthy of the Phantom of the Opera. If you're wondering where the fresh jokes are, fear not. The movie has delirious fun with Big Baby, a damaged infant doll who's a rubbery, droopy-eyed zombie. And then there's Ken — yes, the Ken (voiced by Michael Keaton, having a ball), who's a different sort of zombie, a polyester-brained dandy who lives in a dollhouse and wishes that it were still hip to be square. Like every other toy in the film, he comes with his own hilariously specific mental universe.

Fifteen years after Toy Story, its heroes look more old-fashioned and analog than ever. They really are relics in a world of techno gizmos. Yet all they've ever wanted is a home, and in the supremely moving final scenes of Toy Story 3, their simple desire to be played with is the furthest thing from selfish. It mirrors a child's own essential need to indulge her imagination through play. Toy Story 3 is a salute to the magic of making believe.
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Postby The Original BJ » Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:51 pm

This is just about the only summer movie I'm really looking forward to...although what a match: my beloved Pixar Animation Studios + the writer of Little Miss Sunshine.

Here's hoping it's as great as the first two Toy Stories are.

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Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:59 am

Kudos to Sonic for his instructions on reading Variety reviews.

So...can Pixar continue its Oscar streak with a tertiary sequel -- considering the original two films predated the animation award? Or is this medium review likely to be the dominant impression, and set voters looking elsewhere?

(I believe that's the first Oscar-related question that has even crossed my mind so far this year)


Toy Story 3

(Animated) A Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures release of a Walt Disney Pictures presentation of a Pixar Animation Studios production. Produced by Darla K. Anderson. Executive producer, John Lasseter. Directed by Lee Unkrich. Screenplay, Michael Arndt; story, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Unkrich.

Voices:
Woody - Tom Hanks
Buzz Lightyear - Tim Allen
Jessie - Joan Cusack
Lotso - Ned Beatty
Mr. Potato Head - Don Rickles
Ken - Michael Keaton
Rex - Wallace Shawn
Hamm - John Ratzenberger
Mrs. Potato Head - Estelle Harris
Andy - John Morris
Barbie - Jodi Benson
Bonnie - Emily Hahn


By PETER DEBRUGEAndy outgrows his anthropomorphic amigos Buzz and Woody in "Toy Story 3," the franchise's third (and final?) installment -- and as it turns out, 15 years after launching the computer-animated toon revolution, Pixar has outgrown them, too. Whereas "Toy Story 2" treated auds to a character-based sequel that handily justified its existence, this tertiary adventure delivers welcome yet nonessential fun, landing well after its creators have grown up and succeeded toying with more sophisticated stories. Nevertheless, the stereoscopic 3D release, which reportedly out-tested all of Pixar's previous efforts, should dominate summer playdates.
From the outset, we can sense different hands at the reins. Like the original, pic opens with 6-year-old Andy acting out wild narratives for Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the gang -- only this time, director Lee Unkrich (who came up through Pixar's editorial department and handled co-helming duties on "Toy Story 2," "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo") plunges us into Andy's imagination, which follows childhood logic but looks more like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie.

Andy's toys are fiercely loyal to their owner, with such playtime being their raison d'etre (though the "Toy Story" movies have long hinged on a rather arbitrary notion of what qualifies as the healthy treatment of toys). Homevideos advance us through a dozen years, disposing of Bo Peep and a few other key players along the way. It's gutsy to see Pixar stripping back its ensemble -- the Green Army Men effectively desert, rather than be donated -- in contrast to the unwieldy, ever-growing ensembles of most toon sequels (though Disney Consumer Products has plenty of new characters to be excited about).

Now 18, Andy is packing up for college. Clearly oblivious to the Roundup gang's value, he tosses all but Woody into a garbage bag, which his mom mistakes for trash and takes out to the curb. So begins a convoluted adventure that leads the toys to Sunnyside Daycare Center, which at first appears to be an improvement: The toys haven't been played with in ages, and here, they'll get daily attention. Plus, they'll have plenty of new friends, including "Big Baby" and a Dream House-dwelling Ken (Michael Keaton).

But there's a dark side to Sunnyside, which is overseen by a folksy, strawberry-scented pink plush named Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty). "Lotso" lost his owner years ago, and now he runs the place like a prison. Where the first two "Toy Story" installments served as rescue movies, with characters nobly putting themselves in danger to save their friends from harm, this one instead follows the jailbreak genre.

Take a step back, and the film seems to be about the idea of toys coming to terms with being outgrown by their owners -- however, everyone but Woody seems perfectly fine with being donated at the outset (and Jessie's song already addressed such abandonment issues quite poignantly in the second movie). As character arcs go, this one doesn't seem particularly compelling: Woody must convince the others to break out of Sunnyside and find their way back to Andy's attic, where they can wait until he needs them again -- as delusional thinking goes, this tops even fresh-out-of-the-box Buzz Lightyear's identity issues.

Pixar has essentially set an impossible standard for itself, having previously delivered the rare sequel that improves on the original, then followed that up with a run of exceptional work. This latest script, written by "Little Miss Sunshine's" Michael Arndt from a story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Unkrich, feels more gag-driven than the studio's previous efforts -- essentially borrowing a page from DreamWorks Animation, chasing snappy humor over heart-on-their-sleeve sentimentality, within a few months of DreamWorks going the Pixar route with the sincere storytelling of "How to Train Your Dragon." (It's worth remembering that former Disney CEO Michael Eisner once intended to make "Toy Story 3," sans Pixar involvement, when relations between the two studios broke down in 2004.)

The visuals look gorgeous as ever, making classy use of 3D to enhance the drama, while staying true to the original aesthetic. Humans are notably improved, especially young Bonnie (Emily Hahn), who takes Woody home at one point and introduces him to the film's most appealing new characters, including Shakespearean hedgehog Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton, whose perf amusingly suggests another level of split-personality delusion among toys) and scatterbrained triceratops Trixie (Kristen Schaal).

The latter bodes well for Rex's romantic prospects, which seem far better than Barbie's, since Keaton plays Ken as an effeminate closet case (imagine the outcry had Pixar attempted an equivalent racial caricature). But the pic wants laughs, and it's willing to dilute the respect Lasseter showed this borderline-absurd world to get them, goosing auds with punchline-driven cutting, pop-song montages and throwaway silliness. Surely kids could have done without the bathroom humor, though much of the comedy takes the high road, such as an inspired bit in which Buzz is accidentally switched to Spanish-language mode.

But "Toy Story 3" is best when it's being serious, and the final 15-minute stretch -- from the moment the toys are dumped at a landfill through the tear-jerking finale -- pays off feelings auds invested 15 years ago. Still, there's no reason these scenes couldn't have come 80 minutes earlier (had the toys not escaped their first brush with the garbage truck), which would have left room for the film to explore the curious ontology of being a toy after escaping such a near-death experience.

Pic is preceded by Teddy Newton's visionary six-minute short "Day and Night," an invigorating blend of stereoscopic CG visuals and old-school hand-drawn animation. Set against a black background, two characters serve as windows to opposite halves of the day, their playfully layered dance of sound and spectacle suggesting exciting creative directions Pixar could explore in the future.


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