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Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Toy Story 3


And now, the one that we have be waiting for, to use a cliché. Ten years in the making, here comes the arrival of Toy Story 3. I remember being a five-year-old going with my Dad to see the original Toy Story and being dazzled by a film that looked like this. It's possibly hard to imagine for anyone who wasn't in my generation who saw Toy Story for the first time, but before this it was all hand-drawn animation, and Toy Story was like nothing we had ever seen before. To think of something similar, the impact of Toy Story was similar to the release of Avatar. Furthermore, Toy Story also delivered with memorable characters and a tremendous script which made us want to continue watching. As seen by numerous cash cow films since, you won't want to watch a film unless it's good, no matter how well animated it is. Following on from this was Toy Story 2, which in the tradition of great sequels like The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens and The Godfather Part II, arguably trumps the original. Once again, to use a recurring cliché stolen from Spinal Tap, they turned the volume up to 11 that time round. In the ten years following Toy Story 2, Pixar has amazingly risen to even greater heights. Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibly, Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, Pixar have only gotten better and better. Now, John Lasseter, one of the founders of Pixar and the visionary behind Toy Story, is now Chief Creative Officer of both Disney and Pixar, making him effectively one of the kings of the animation world, has come full circle with the third film in the Toy Story franchise. This time round, Lee Unkrich, co-director of Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo is helming the franchise, and believe me, it's in ample hands. Anyway, cue word for plot synopsis, but really I will not spoil the movie by any means. This time round, Andy is now 17 and heading for college after the summer holidays and Woody, Buzz and the other toys are facing the possibility of either the attic or the trash. During this crisis, the toys end up at a day-care centre, in which they will be played with for all time. However, Woody has a case of a guilty conscience and decides to try and return to his owner. Now, by no means take this as the full and correct plot synopsis, and I probably (no, definitely) make it sound a more boring than it really is, but then again that's the thing about Pixar: they have a way of making anything seem so fantastical and amazing, telling a tale of greatness in the process. To start off with the vocal talents on display, as ever, Pixar have assembled a wonderful cast to play the characters. Returning to their famous roles are Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as Woody and Buzz, and really, they play them with suitable gravitas and play them relevantly as to how they are written on the page. One of cinema's great double acts, they exchanges between Woody and Buzz are nigh-on perfect, both hilarious and suitably poignant at points. Particularly in this film over the other two you get a real sense of the deep bond of friendship between the two. Joan Cusack is once again charming as the bouncy and enthusiastic Jessie and John Ratzenberger is also good is Hamm. I must say, after ten years and having not seen a Toy Story for years though, you do really forget how funny Don Rickles and Wallace Shawn are as the cynical Mr. Potato Head and as the simpleton Rex. Of the new cast members, the great Ned Beatty really stands out as Lotso the Lots-O'-Huggin' bear and in my opinion perhaps gives the best performance of a villain in the Toy Story canon. Also very funny though is Michael Keaton who does the voice of Ken, who is the subject of many insults and of some very funny interplay with Barbie. Let's face it though; these voice actors would not have been able to deliver their tremendous performances if it were not for a brilliant script. Writing the third Toy Story film would be a daunting task for anyone, but the gang at Pixar take this kind of thing in their stride and never fail to disappoint. The script is written by Michael Arndt, who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay a few years back for the fabulous Little Miss Sunshine. Choosing a screenwriter who has written for a film such as this is highly appropriate for the approach to the story that the story-writers Lasseter, Unkrich and Andrew Stanton have taken. Arndt scribes a witty and consistently hilarious comedy which really keeps you in stitches for the majority of the film and keeps it at a constantly entertaining pace. Really, and this is the truth, I don't think I have laughed so much at a new film since I went to see Borat a few years ago, really, IT'S THAT FUNNY! However, Arndt is wise enough, along with the Pixar crew, to keep it a very human and poignant piece. With Andy growing up, from an audience perspective, this is us being forced to grow up and address the responsibilities that face us in the future. The toys, like Andy, are facing an uncertain future which may or may not be inevitable and it is whether or not the decisions they make that drive the film. It makes the emotional crux of the film very powerful. To be honest, and I probably shouldn't be saying "to be honest" because it makes me sound like I'm ashamed of something, the last fifteen minutes were a true emotional battle for me and I wept like a big baby. The ending, which I will not spoil, is truly satisfying, and is in my opinion, the greatest close to a film franchise in film history. And you know what; I am getting tears in my eyes thinking of it. Frightening, but I have got this far and have not even addressed the graphics, which are once again absolutely tremendous and have gotten even better as the years have went on, but is still recognisably familiar as the Toy Story look. However, I won't harp on, because I think I have had enough to say about this film. I will not joke, I have said this before about Wall-E, which I adore, but really, I feel that Toy Story 3 has superseded this. For the sake of argument here, and I know I may be going a bit mad over Toy Story fever, but I'm trying to think of a flaw for this movie but I can't, I simply can't. Maybe, I'll regret, maybe I won't, but I have reviewed over 100 movies over the past few years, but this might actually be the best one. For the first time in my reviewing career, I am going to give a movie a perfect 10 out 10. My brain is about to burst trying to think of a flaw, but really it is this good, and Pixar deserve this for this masterpiece so congratulations and a personal thank you for the years of wonder and joy.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 10/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Astounded

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