CATEGORY: WORDS: Joshua Kelhoffer

What separates Pixar from all the rest?  Could it be that every time they’ve stepped up to the plate, they have knocked the ball right out of the park? Or perhaps it is because their computer animated films have something that real, flesh & blood live action films often lack: stories grounded with heart and sentimentality.

There are bad connotations surrounding the term “family film.” That is because more often than not, children films severely pander to their audiences and are, without a doubt, over-saturated by fart and booger jokes. Toy Story 3, like all of Pixar’s films, is not like this.

You see, Pixar understands that you can make movies that can appeal to both children and adults, and that you do this, not with Nickeloadian-style humor, but by treating the story with respect, occupying it with characters who have real personality and making you relate to them. I have no problem with relating to the characters from Toy Story, Wall-E, or Up, but certainly there must be something deeply problematic when you have plenty of live action films (Twilight, Prince of Persia, and Revenge of the Sith, for example) that star real people, who are supposed to have real emotions and serious problems, and yet they come across as lifeless and dry.

A lot of time has gone by since Toy Story 2. Andy has grown up and is preparing for college. Many of the toys, such as Bo Peep and Etch, have been given away, while Woody, Buzz, and the remaining toys have been spending the past few years in the toy chest, waiting to for somebody to play with them. Even Andy’s sister has grown past toys, and has started moving on to superficial teen magazines and other such “grown up” girly stuff. Due to a series of unfortunate events, they find themselves at Sunnyside Daycare, which at first seems like a heavenly retirement center for toys. But it doesn’t take long for the “newcomers” to realize that their new paradise is actually a nightmare.

What makes Toy Story 3 different from its predecessors is that while those films were ultimately about getting back to Andy, the third installment is essentially about toys who no longer have owners and have to find a new place in this world. It is about how life changes in ways we aren’t comfortable with, but we need to ultimately move on with our lives anyway. Nothing sums this up better than the last scene. What’s better to end the Toy Story series with than a touching conclusion that really brings a cheerful tear to your eye? The conclusion just felt right, even if when it was expected. In a way, it is  almost as touching as the opening act of Up.

The film isn’t perfect, but I admit that I had a hard time noticing its faults. There may be a bit too many word for word dialogue throwbacks to the first two films, and maybe we could have spent a bit more time with some of the newer characters. I find myself wondering why they even bothered to cast Timothy Dalton for a role that consists of two or three lines. But I find these particular complaints to be more or less nitpicks. In a year where most of the movies I’ve seen and reviewed have been purely superficial, Toy Story 3 has managed to be quite relevant in ways those films never tried.

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