Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Toy Story 3

(Movie Review)

It's been over 10 years now since I've seen either of the two previous "Toy Story" movies. (And well before I started reviewing movies on this blog).

Consequently, I don't remember those movies in much detail. But I do have vague memories about the experience of watching them.
The first Toy Story I believe I saw somewhat against my will sometime in college. Someone put it in the VCR and I was too lazy to leave the room. And although I had thought it was just for kids, I remember being pleasantly surprised with how good it was, and how much I genuinely laughed at all the jokes.

My experience with the second Toy Story was similar. As I recall it was a family outing to the theaters. I had voted for a different movie, but lost out and somewhat sulkily followed everyone else inside to see "Toy Story 2." And then found myself enjoying it even more. The jokes were funnier, and some of the chase scenes had me on the edge of my seat even though it was a kids movie.

I guess it's somewhat cliche to praise Pixar movies for appealing to adults as well as kids (see: every review of Pixar ever written.) But it's true.

So by the time "Toy Story 3" came out, I went into the theaters of my own volition.

A fuller review of the trilogy, and how this film stacks up against the others, can best be done by someone who has the two previous films in more recent memory (see Whisky's take on it over here.)

I'm somewhat a victim to the gaps in my memory on the previous two films. But there's no doubt about it, those guys over at Pixar are talented writers. They do some amazing things with fast paced chase scenes in computer animation. And they can also be really funny.

Kids toys, and the different personalities they might take on if they were really alive, is a subject somewhat ripe for satire, but Pixar does it well. Sometimes the humor comes from playing up the stereo type such as a Ken doll who is just a little bit too into fashion, and (from Toy Story 2) Rock-em Sock-em Robots that are a bit too argumentative.
Sometimes the humor comes from playing against type, like the evil Teddy Bear, or the mild mannered Tyrannosaurus Rex or the sad clown Chuckles.

But either way it's always good fun. And a clever mix of nostalgia with humor and good story telling.
(For example: I never had a glo-worm (W) as a kid, but as a child of the 80s I remember well the advertising campaigns and commercials for it, and got a kick out of seeing it in this movie as a kind of evil librarian. I got a few laughs out of Ken insisting that he wasn't a girl's toy. And I liked the chatter telephone that talked like a 40s gangster film. All good fun.)

And, although I'm not quite sure the chase scenes lived up to the previous two films (subject to memory, that) I thought they were pretty decent.

What grained on me a little bit is the overdone sentimentality of this film.

With all the truly sad things that are happening in this world, I have a limited amount of emotional involvement I'm prepared to invest in a teenager outgrowing his childhood toys (if you'll excuse me for bringing in my cynical adult views to a children's story). In my humble opinion, it would have been better to just stay focused on the fun part of these stories. Sure Andy has to grow up eventually, and eventually the toys will get thrown away or broken. But in the world of film, there's no reason why this has to happen in real time. I don't go to this kind of movie to see a long drawn out story about toys coming to grips with their own mortality.

As we were walking out of the theater, my friend asked me what rating I would give this film out of 10.
"It loses a point for the gushy sentimentality," I said. "And perhaps it loses another point for being in unnecessary 3D," (in my opinion.) "But I'd still give it a solid 7 or even 8."

And I think I'll stick to that.

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky Americas Messianic Vision Of Democracy.

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