By: Addison Wylie
Toy Story was released in 1995. I remember being 7 years old and sitting in the theatre being so excited. I had a huge smile on my face the entire time. Well, maybe the scenes where Buzz is leaping for the window hoping to fly and maybe the scenes where Sid is torturing toys. Maybe those scenes were ones where my prolonged grin disappeared. It only disappeared because I was incredibly invested in the story and in the characters. As a youngster, I believed in Cowboy Woody and Spaceman Buzz’s fights and I believed their slow bond towards friendship. Even when Toy Story 2 was released in 1999, there I was, 11 years old and sitting in that theatre with a huge smile on my face once again. I was giddy with the addition of slapstick humor provided by Woody’s horse, Bullseye, and was saddened to hear Cowgirl Jesse’s song about how her owner abandoned her. Both previous Toy Story films were balanced wonderfully with humor that kids and adults could enjoy and with emotion within the story or in the characters themselves. In 2010, Pixar has decided to cap off the series with a third installment. Never in a million years would I imagine a 22-year-old self in a theatre, watching a new Toy Story film with my enchanting Fiancée, wearing goofy 3D glasses. Even though my life has undergone changes, for the better, these characters have always been the same. I’ve grown up with these characters along with these magical stories of fun, friendship, and despair. Watching Toy Story 3 is like meeting up with old friends and getting caught up. Apart from that nostalgic feeling, we also get a strong story filled with humor and pathos, sharp dialogue by a new screenplay helmer, and some of the best animation we’ve seen in a long time.
When we last left off the Toy Story franchise, Woody, Jesse, and Bullseye, had been rescued by a selfish toy collector and it was then that the whole gang was finally back together. This story, on the other hand, begins with a few members of the family missing. Andy has been growing up and has been parting with toys he no longer plays with but he has kept most of the original crew including Buzz, Woody, Jesse, Bullseye, the Potato Heads, Rex, and Hamm. However, he has kept them in a toy box for a really long time. It’s when Andy is packing up for College that he finally faces his plastic and felt friends. Andy wants to hold on to Woody and take him to College for a nice visual memory of his past. In a mix-up of bags not being stowed away in the attic, the rest of the toys are accidentally sent to Sunnyside Daycare to be donated to younger children. It’s here where the gang meets Lotso, voiced by Ned Beatty, as well as the other veterans of the environment at the Daycare. At first what seems to be a calming environment where they toys will now get played with constantly quickly turns into a menaceful society where young children are extremely rough with their belongings. The toys decide they’ve had it with the rowdy children and with the help of Woody, who has witnessed the bag confusion, they must break free of the hectic world of Daycare.
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For the third installment of the Toy Story series, Pixar has brought on screenwriter Michael Arndt to pen the script as well as Pixar veterans John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich. Arndt’s previous screenwriting credit is to the film Little Miss Sunshine. With the addition of Arndt, the script isn’t afraid to put the characters in dark, unfortunate situations. The scenes where characters explain their back stories are still there but they feel a little darker this time around. I didn’t find these situations got too distressed but it did add another layer of human emotion onto the characters, thus, making them feel more three-dimensional. New characters never feel under developed; they feel like we’ve known them as long as we’ve known the original gang of toys. A scene where we find out a back-story to a new character named Chuckles, voiced by Bud Luckey, especially sticks out as a strong scene demonstrating this writing technique. At first, the sight and sound of Chuckles is alarming and funny but once we find out his back-story, the audience is immediately sucked in and we feel engaged with a new novelty personality. The dialogue feels very realistic as well and doesn’t talk down to the younger audience. With these genuine sequences and characters, the voice acting convinces us even more of the situations and the cast at hand. Tom Hanks, as the voice of Woody, and Tim Allen, as the voice of Buzz, do a spectacular job once again lending their voices as well as Don Rickles, as the voice of Mr. Potato Head, and John Ratzenberger, as the voice of Hamm, who had the whole theatre cracking up. The voice acting adds an incredible amount of emotion to the subjects and, again, the audience is fully invested in these personalities. The eyes and ears Pixar has to detail are astounding.
Stated before, the film was being presented in a digital 3-D format. The film can also be viewed in a regular, plain-jane 2-D format as well. Taking into account how the film would look in 2-D as opposed to the 3-D presentation, I can honestly say that if you see Toy Story 3 in a 2-D presentation, you aren’t going to be missing a lot. I’ve found animated films are a good example of how the 3-D format can be used to an advantage; however, sometimes the format isn’t called for. To me, it feels as if a higher command is forcing Pixar to present films in 3-D in order to turn the theatre going experience into a theme park ride as well as to rake up a few more bucks. However, director Lee Unkrich and his team aren’t interested in sending objects flying towards you or having the story stop in order to make the film into a 3-D gimmick. They are solely interested in making a memorable, compelling film that will touch the hearts of children and adults. And that is completely, 100% acceptable. By having the filmmakers in this mindset, the 3D isn’t distracting and it isn’t a big deal. If your theatre is only showing 2-D, there really isn’t a problem at hand. Sure, by having the 3-D presentation, the background and characters have a little more detail to them and everything visually seems a bit more rounded but, at the end of the day, I want a movie I’m going to remember for its captivating story and charming characters. I’m going to remember a well-rounded attribute over a well-rounded paddle-ball to the face.
Pixar has always been a bright light in the world of cinema. We can count on them for a captivating story, special characters, and a path into a fanatical world where children and adults are on the same page with one another. Though, for the past 11 years, Pixar has graced my life with a group of characters that feel like old chums. Within the last 15 minutes, I think it’s safe to say that everyone who has grown up with Woody, Buzz, and the gang will feel like they’re losing a loved one but we’ll always have these personalities in our hearts to remind us just how fun it was to grow up. Toy Story 3 is a perfect way to wrap everything up. With its sharp script, whimsical but compelling characters, and the strong voice casting, Toy Story 3 has capped off one of the greatest trilogies in film and animation.