Toy Story 3: excellently, wonderfully awesome

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I wonder if Pixar will ever make a bad movie, or even a genuinely mediocre one. Okay, maybe Cars wasn't fantastic, but it still had Paul Newman and was a fun time. The company could probably release a film with no clues to its subject, just "New From Pixar!", and we'd all still go see it.

After Toy Story 3, I certainly would. While I might give its 1999 predecessor a slight edge on a better intro, marginally better villains, and funnier end credits, this might be the best of the trilogy, and quite possibly Pixar's best movie yet—which makes it a great movie, period. Disney had planned on making a third film in the series by itself before it bought Pixar (Disney had the rights). Luckily that earlier attempt was shut down, because in less deft hands a computer-generated, animated story about plastic toys could easily have been profoundly lifeless.

This story of toys is far from that. My daughter Marina, who's 12 and getting pickier about movies, said in amazement, "There were no boring parts!" All five of us who went today, ages ranging over four decades, were happily teary-eyed at the ending. And I'm always impressed with how thought out Pixar's plots are, even for brief moments. The toys, returning home, make sure to wash themselves off with a garden hose to remove the detritus of their many adventures, for example. Not as impressive as Woody's arm becoming re-damaged in the second film, but still, a detail worth noting because rendering time is expensive, but the filmmakers knew that detail needed to be there.

The Toy Story series, like Pixar's other work, defies the stereotypes of work done by committee. I guess all you need is a brilliant committee. A second sequel that improves on its excellent forbears is rare in big mainstream pictures, and in films generally. I'm tempted to say that Pixar should leave well enough alone and keep it a trilogy, a hat trick.

But you know what? If they decide that another Toy Story deserves to be made, I'll trust their judgment. They've earned that trust.

By the way, the opening short film (traditional with Pixar releases) does something I've never seen done with 3D before. Don't miss it.

3 Comments

Toy Story 2 was going to be a direct-to-video sequel until Disney decided they'd release it as a feature. John Lasseter came in to oversee it, and deemed it a wreck. So they basically started over from scratch... only 9 months before release, which is unheard-of for CG films (they usually take 3-5 years)! Go find The Story of Pixar (The Pixar Story?), which is an interesting documentary from a few years ago about the studio.

I want more Incredibles.

I think Pixar is missing an opportunity by not treating the Incredibles universe like Marvel/DC. I'd go back for more Supers in a heartbeat.

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