Pixar returns with a fond farewell.
Image: Walt Disney Pictures
10 years after Pixar packed away the toy box for, what audiences thought was the final time, the animating giants residing under that, now, incredibly weighty, Californian white lamp have gone and called for recess once again. Boys and their toys! When news broke that Pixar was planning a toy revival, there were doubts; Toy Story 2 had such a satisfying ending – the gang eventually rescuing Woody from the clutches of a relentless toy thief, and subsequently realising that they’ll still have each other even when Andy grows up and finds more exciting things to play with – that envisioning a third Woody and Buzz caper clambering out of an, already, well-remunerated franchise was difficult. But the guys across the pond obviously, and naturally, saw a loose end that needed to be tied up, which could be done whilst pulling out all the anthropomorphic stops to try and make a grown man, or woman, cry. And with Toy Story 3, a beautifully crafted, modern classic, they almost succeed - big girls don’t cry!
The third instalment kicks of with Woody (Hanks) and the gang desperately trying to gain the attention of Andy, who is now all grown up (17 going on 18), and ready to head off to college. From their worthless attempt, it’s clear that Andy has entered a new phase in his life which, for a while now, hasn’t left much time for the cowboy and co.. This is also apparent when Andy must decide what he’s going to do with his trusted toys. Will it be the bin, the attic or the day-care centre? An action-packed sequence follows, and a blown up buster, and a rubbish truck later, the toys arrive at Sunnyside. Yep. You guessed it. Day-care. And being the bright young things that we are, and understanding the nature of Pixar films, unlike the name suggests, we know that Sunnyside doesn’t represent the bright side of life. Consequently, after a cosy initiation, bedlam ensues, as does the striking of many emotional chords, as the toys race against the clock to get back to their beloved Andy.
Pixar has pitched this picture perfectly; managing to balance the simpler expectations of tiny minds with the demands of more mature audiences.
Unlike the previous two films, they opt to travel a much darker, sinister route with this movie – maybe done in an attempt to wrap up storylines – with a not-so-velvet teddy bear, a plastic infant sidekick, and an incessant cymbal-bashing watchman providing the thrills, while Michael Keaton’s turn as ‘man’s’ doll Ken, and a Spanish turn in one of the main protagonists provide the laughs out loud. A dramatic climax, involving a conveyor belt and burning flames, may also produce a tear!
For kids with weak bladders, this could go down as The Labyrinth or Wizard of Oz of their time (goblins and flying monkeys shaped nightmares!), and for adults, it’s a poignant, freakishly feel-good, and bad, all the same time, movie, with sentiments that will resonate with us long after Andy graduates. Some may say that this is a film for men. It’s not. It’s a movie for Mars and for Venus.
Like a fine wine, this franchise has gotten better with age. Move over Shrek, the toys are back in town!