2010 / Best Picture

Film #479: Toy Story 3 (2010)

Despite producing many incredibly popular animated features, Pixar will always be most famous for the Toy Story films. This is primarily because Toy Story was the studio’s first full feature when it was released in 1995. Four years later the sequel was released to even more acclaim but audiences were then made to wait another eleven years for the conclusion to the trilogy.

Toy Story 3’s main plot saw Woody, Buzz and the gang realise that seventeen-year-old Andy now didn’t want to play with them particularly as he was just about to head off to college. The predicament about what to do with our childhood toys is one that all of us have gone through and seeing this through the eyes of the toys themselves is quite unique. Whilst Andy decides to take Woody to college, a choice that I still find odd to this day, the other toys are destined for the attic. However, due to some miscommunication, they end up believing they were destined for the garbage and therefore take matters into their own hands. With Woody splitting himself from the gang, they arrive at Sunnyside Daycare believing that they will find children who’ll play with them properly. However, they quickly learn that Daycare is manipulated by the cute-looking but evil-minded Lotso who believes that every toy at the institution has been discarded by a child. I think that screenwriter Michael Arndt did a great job at turning the middle chunk of Toy Story 3 into a prison movie spoof. There were some great scenes in which the returning Woody learnt of the security at the centre and how he would best be able to sneak his friends out. The final scenes of the film though were the most touching, and to me rivalled anything in Up, as the toys believed they were to be incinerated and held hands to face the inevitable. This emotion lasted on to the scene in which Andy finally set a heartfelt goodbye to Woody and friends in a moment that evoked memories of the final moments of Winnie the Pooh.

I think enlisting Arndt to write the script for Toy Story 3 was a masterstroke and one that more that paid off. Arndt, who previously won an Oscar for penning Little Miss Sunshine, knew that the key to the film’s charm was the relationship between the toys and therefore based the story around their closeness. The scene in the incinerator still makes me well up when I think about it and that scene where the toys link hands one-by-one is particularly poignant. I found the structure of the film allowed the old characters to shine while at the same time introducing new memorable supporting players. Obviously some of the most memorable scenes in Toy Story 3 belong to Ken, who is superbly voiced here by Michael Keaton, a character who goes from sleazy enforcer to groovy manager of the daycare thanks in part to his relationship with Barbie. Despite the film being about talking toys, Toy Story 3 is a film that feels incredibly close to real life and the fact that it touches on themes of moving on means that it resonates with every member of the audience.
I think what makes the Pixar films so great is that they never insult their audience in the way other animated movies seem to. Both in Up and Toy Story 3 the stories are quite complex and contain something for every member of the family. In fact the two films I’ve watched for this particular post are better written than a lot of the other Oscar-nominated movies that I’ve talked about recently. The only minus point in Toy Story 3’s favour is the fact that Pixar have now announced a fourth film which won’t follow on from this classic. Instead it has been announced as a stand-alone sequel which leads me to believe that it’s simply an attempt to cash in on the franchise’s success. But disregarding that fact I think it’s fair to say that Toy Story 3 caps off what is arguably the most consistent and well-rounded film trilogy of all time.


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