Monday, June 21, 2010

Toy Story 3, a Review

Toy Story 3 I should preface this post by saying that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Toy Story or Toy Story 2.  I do remember that I enjoyed them both, finding their stories entertaining and their humor satisfying.  Plus, the characters are memorable and iconic.  That said, I had a certain expectation for Toy Story 3, namely that I would laugh and that I would get a good story.  Did the movie achieve these things for me?

Toy Story 3 takes place several years after the first two films.  Andy is getting ready to head off to College (not some unnamed university or college, but College).  His childhood toys—Woody, Buzz, the Potatoheads, etc.—have all been left behind and stored in a toy box for years.  As Andy grew up, he stopped playing with them, and now that he’s going off to College he no longer needs them.

The film opens with a glorious battle between the toys in their play universe.  All the favorites are there.  The action is high.  The fun is great.  But then when real life hits, when we find that the toys are desperate for attention once again, all the fun seems to stop.  By accident, the toys end up at a daycare where things aren’t as happy as they seemed.  The kids there are rough and hard on toys, uncaring that they break or are damaged.  The daycare serves as the main plot for the movie, introducing new characters with exciting potential. 

A lot of stuff happens, things that test friendship, loyalty, and self-importance, and the toys (namely Woody) end up changed.  The conclusion was a sappy, probably unrealistic scene that tried to jerk at tears that I didn’t feel like shedding.  Am I heartless?  No.  It succeeded in that it had me thinking about my childhood, waxing nostalgic, but I never had a favorite toy that I cared deeply about, let along a sack full. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Toy Story 3 offers a great adventure story.  There were times when I was unsure how the toys were going to manage.  The plot is fun and original.  But what was missing was the humor.  Long has Pixar been a studio that produces films of exceptional stories and high comedic values.  I laughed once or twice, but nothing like I’ve done with past Pixar films.  And that is where the film suffers.  If there was more clever humor, more oddball funny situations, I might have enjoyed it better, but sadly there was not.

On a plus note, the animation was beautiful.  The junkyard scenes were fantastic.  The characters are seamless and smooth.  Even the human characters are better looking, still maintaining their CG animated characteristics but looking more realistic while not crossing the line into Realism.  And the toys were all well crafted and created.

Toy Story 3 let me down.  Perhaps it’s because it’s been a while since I’ve seen the last ones.  Perhaps it’s because I had my standards too high.  Maybe I’m not the target audience?  Whatever it is, I can only recommend this movie to diehard Pixar fans (I’m a fan, but I don’t think diehard is a word I’d use to describe my devotion) or Toy Story fans.  Of course, I couldn’t expect Pixar to never mess up, and after a dozen mostly-fantastic films, this one blip isn’t going to change my opinion of them.  I’m sure they’ll be back with a new, grand story, and when it’s there, I’ll watch it happily.

(Note: I saw the 2d version.  I still don’t understand the fascination with 3d cinema, and I hope by not purchasing the 3d tickets I’m sending a small message to somebody that I don’t want that technology to stick around.  Sadly, I’d say I’m in for a rude awakening.)


Brandon said...

Good to wife and I were planning a date night. I'll have to show her your review before we decide on Toy Story 3.

logankstewart said...

@Brandon: I think I'm in the minority on this one, as it seems that just about everyone and their brother likes it. It wasn't bad, mind you, but it wasn't phenomenal, either.

Jonathan Francis said...

I'm kinda surprised Logan. I see where you're coming from, but I absolutely loved it. I think it's around 98% fresh on rottentomatoes right now as well. Then again, I'm an an absolutely huge Pixar fan and the original Toy Story is still my favorite Pixar movie.

logankstewart said...

@Jon: Aye, I think I'm in the minority on this one. While I had fun watching the movie, it wasn't the typical kind of fun I have with a Pixar film, and I think that's why I was disappointed.

Okie said...

Good review. I'm with you on the 3d thing...we continually 'boycott' the industry trend by only going to 2d versions of the film.

As to the movie, it was a lot of fun, though I definitely felt the heavy hand directorial manipulation as I was pulled through an emotional blender again and again.

Don't get me wrong, I liked the suspense and the tension it created, but it really changed the tone for me. I enjoyed the movie and would like to see it again.

But as far as the overall "Toy Story" franchise, I think Toy Story 2 is still the best offering and gives the best all around package.

logankstewart said...

@Okie: Agreed. A complete change in tone from the previous movies, if I remember correctly. Enjoyable, aye, a bit, but definitely not up to Pixar standards.