Out of the ten Pixar films, most of which unanimously praised by kids and kids at heart, I’ve only seen five – Toy Story 1 & 2, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, and Up. I can barely remember what Toy Story 1 & 2 were about. I think Up was mildly entertaining. But I tremendously enjoyed Finding Nemo and WALL-E. Dory (voiced by the effervescent Ellen DeGeneres) is my favorite animated character of all time. I’m not ashamed to admit that Finding Nemo made me cry. Meanwhile, I ranked WALL-E as my 4th favorite film of 2008, beating the likes of The Dark Knight and Wanted. But overall, I can’t really say that I’m a huge fan of Pixar or of animated films in general.
Despite being a banner year for animated films, I only saw two in 2009 – Coraline and Up. Both were tolerable at best. I have the slightest interest to see The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Mary and Max, and Ponyo despite the acclaim they have received. So when Pixar announced that Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang will bounce back to the silverscreen after 11 long years, my reaction was: “Hollywood, when will your addiction to sequels end?” I think a third installment is largely unnecessary. It took a 100% “fresh” rating (not a single negative review as of last week) on Rotten Tomatoes, a website that aggregates movie reviews and ratings from film critics, to convince me to give Toy Story 3 a shot.
As I said earlier, I can barely remember what Toy Story 1 & 2 were about, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. If your memory is as unreliable as mine, fret not. The opening montage set to the tune of You Got A Friend In Me will refresh your memory on the toys’ relationship with their owner/friend Andy. But Andy is already 17 years old and is leaving for college soon. After a garbage bag mix-up, the toys thought they were going to the dump. Tired of gathering dust and longing to be played with, they decided to donate themselves to Sunnyside Day Care. But Sunnyside isn’t so sunny after all, it is ruled by a maniacal, power-tripping, strawberry-scented purple teddy bear Lotso. They are banished to the Caterpillar Room where they are chewed on, thrown all over, and played with by overly rowdy toddlers. In exciting Prison Break fashion, the gang plots their grand escape out of Sunnyside and back to Andy’s house.
You’ve probably heard your friends say that Toy Story 3 is a weepie. If you’re the type who laughs at your friends when they cried watching Dear John, I can just imagine how you will berate them after making that bold proclamation that Toy Story 3, an animated film about toys, is a tearjerker. But they were telling the truth, especially if you’re one of those kids who grew up with the franchise. I could hear an orchestra of sniffles playing during the last two scenes (the garbage incinerator scene and the inevitable conclusion), so practice wiping off your tears while wearing those 3D glasses.
Hollywood, take heed, this is how you cap off a fantastic franchise. Damn! What an ending!
But that doesn’t mean that Toy Story 3 will bore kids with its adult sentiments. Pixar stamps it with their signature brand of adventure and joy. Without giving away too much, some of the highlights of Toy Story 3 are Buzz Lightyear in Español mode, Mr. Potato Head in a tortilla, Mr. Prickle Pant’s improv, and Ken, Barbie’s metrosexual lover. So I guess it’s safe to assume that Woody and Buzz will be shaking hands with the golden statue next year. A Best Picture nod, a Best Adapted Screenplay nod, and a Best Animated Feature award are within reach.
For more movie reviews, go to www.pixelatedpopcorn.blogspot.com.