Directed by Lee Unkrich
When I think of Pixar I think of Toy Story. The one that started it all. The first fully computer animated feature film. And on top of its groundbreaking status, the film was great too. And ever since then, Pixar has been releasing great animated films that are suited for kids and adults alike. With the Toy Story series itself, I prefer the second film over the first, but still greatly enjoy the first. So now, eleven years later, we are presented with the third installment in the great series.
This time the whole gang is there, with the exception of a few friends who have been lost along the way to yard sales or donations, but all the main toys are there. But they have not been played with for some time now; Andy has grown up and will be going off to college and will not be bringing his stupid toys to college with him. The film opens with a great sequence. It harkens back to the original and the first play time we ever saw with Andy and his toys, except this time the world he creats becomes real, it no longer simply takes place in his bedroom.
The conflict comes when the toys, in a ploy to be played with yet again, get donated to a local day care center. Little do they know, however, that the center is run by a mean, selfish teddy bear named Lots O’ and his minions Ken and Baby Doll. Once this is discovered, it is on Woody to return, as he had never wanted to go and escaped at the first possible chance, and the rest of the gang to break out of there and return to Andy.
The action is fun, the imagination of the filmmakers is great, and the final act is so heartbreaking and heartwarming all the same. The new characters are a lot of fun to spend time with as well, even when they are evil. The pairing of Barbie and Ken is hilarious. Michael Keaton does a wonderful job voicing Ken and the animators make him move so perfectly for his charatcer. The Spanish Buzz was also a highlight, but again Tom Hanks as Woody and Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear are the true stars of the proceedings.
With the final scene in the film, Pixar has once again proved that they can create endearing charatcers that will last a lifetime. They have proven yet again that animated film, and even film in general, does not have to be just one thing, but can be animated, can be action, can be comedy, can be drama and about emotions that hit all the right chords. With the final scene we learn just how great of a kid Andy is and has been to his toys. With the second film we briefly see an examination of Woody and his thoughts on his existence. Here we see it again, but with the whole gang. We see love, we see responsibility (the toys feel it is their job to be there for Andy and make him happy). And that is what love is all about: being there for one another, no matter what, and never giving up on the other person.
Now that I am done rambling on, let me close with this. Everything Pixar has done I have liked. Much of it I have loved, but all in all they have not made a film that I did not like. This run is great. Animation is great. And movies are great. Even if they are for kids, because if you cannot be a kid when your in the theater, or when you are imagining that your toys have lives after you leave them, then I pray for your soul and for your happiness, because there is nothing quite like being a kid, even for just 2 hours, especially when you are an adult.
***1/2 – Great
Day & Night
Directed by Teddy Newton
The short before the film was one of the most creative and imaganative things I have had the pleasure of seeing. The way that the story between these two creatures, Day and Night, was told actually did not utilize the entire screen. This may seem to be a flaw or some type of filmmaking that would be boring, but I swear, Pixar knows what they are doing. They focus your attention on these two, rather uniform looking, characters and manage to tell a great story by just using part of the screen. It only lasts five minutes or so, but in that five minutes we make friends with creatures who make friends with each other. We also bare witness to some beautiful imagry, the kind that Pixar has become accustomed to making. Probably the best Pixar short I have seen, and they have made some dandies over the years. Honestly, seeing the short before the film is often times just as or even more exciting than getting to see the feature.