Released 2010. Director: Lee Unkrich
WHO HASN’T PLAYED WITH TOYS? WHO DOESN’T REMEMBER their favourite toys from childhood? What people would have bad memories of toys? Whether it’s a Matchbox car, wooden building blocks, a Made-in-Hong-Kong plastic doll, or a battery-operated robot with flashing lights, no one forgets what they played with as a child.
Toy Story 3 is about growing up, moving on to adulthood and giving up on the things that gave us endless hours, days, years of fun and magic. Toys that accompanied us through childhood were friends. It’s no surprise to read about grown men in the audience shedding a sentimental tear by the time the movie ends.
This chapter is a warm, fitting and bittersweet conclusion. Written by Michael Arndt (who wrote Little Miss Sunshine) and directed by Lee Unkrich (who directed Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc), Toy Story 3 is without question the best and definitely the most emotionally rewarding of the trilogy. It is fun, joyous, thrilling, poignant, and it does something that’s rather amazing. This movie makes you ache for your old toys. Let me not pretend to be unaffected by its overwhelming sentiments. This blasted, sodding, bloody cartoon movie makes me wish I was a little boy left alone with my now long-lost precious toys.
There is a magical quality to Toy Story 3, in the way it draws you into a sense of reverie with its depiction of the camaraderie among the toys. These characters take you back to the time when you were a kid playing make-believe with inanimate toys. Little girls might have played house with dolls; little boys might have played battle scenes with soldiers; or animals, dinosaurs, robots, and in my case, even rubber sharks.
As kids we create an entire world with incredible adventures, whether it’s rescue missions or surprise attacks, or simply having some ‘friends’ over to bring out the tea set. Once again, these toy characters whisk us back in time to our own childhood with their own adventures. And what an adventure this is. Donated by mistake to a day-care centre, Woody, Buzz and friends must find their way home. But not before being terrorised senseless by screaming toddlers, imprisoned by a dictatorial teddy bear who rules the centre with an iron fist, and a struggle to outrun an instant fiery death that’s inordinately a sequence more superior than the climax of most action movies.
The clincher, the one idea that’s been announced right from the start, and the moment you know will come, is the final goodbye. Andy, the boy we first met in the first Toy Story way back in 1995, is leaving home for college. Woody and his mates know they may never see Andy again.
The thought of being made to give up our toys is a feeling few can forget, no matter how old you’ve become. You always remember how you felt as a child. In this regard, Toy Story 3 is very much a movie written for adults. Even as the animation, colour, drama and humour appeal greatly to kids, this movie has its sight set firmly on audiences of all ages.
Indeed it has become unnecessary to describe the animation technique in a Pixar production anymore. Pixar Animation Studio is the standard bearer for the industry and its stable of output sets the bar in terms of artistry and technique. What also continues to grow from strength to strength is the life in the stories and the emotions they convey.
How amazing is it that the guys at Pixar can make you forget you’re watching digital images. Their greatest achievement reaches beyond the leading-edge animation technique. It is the enormous respect and sincerity in their stories. Toy Story 3 is one of the year’s best movies because it is universally resonant, because it taps into the same emotional terrain across cultures, languages and ages. Quite simply, a movie like Toy Story 3 makes going to the cinemas so worthwhile.