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The seventies had Star Wars, the eighties had Indiana Jones and us nineties kiddos had Toy Story. There was so much anticipation around the final installation in this trilogy that there was no surprise that it went on to become the highest grossing animated film of all time. However, it’s fair to say that most part threes fall flat on their faces, failing to sparkle next to their predecessors. By no means, does this follow suit. In fact, this could even be the rare treat of a final third that is the greatest segment of the whole story.
Plot-wise, it’s familiar territory: fear of abandonment, imprisonment, you got a friend in me. Andy’s off to college and the toys, sadly yet inevitably, are shoved in a trunk, desperately trying to get him to notice them let alone play with them again. But Andy hasn’t given up on them either, choosing Woody to take to college as a mascot and sending the rest up to the attic rather than throwing them out. Naturally, there’s a mix-up and the toys end up at Sunnyside playschool, the equivalent of a toy retirement home, where they’re taken under the squishy arm of Lotso-Huggin-Bear. However everything soon takes a turn for the sinister and the gang must plot their escape..
Yes, the plot may tread similar ground to the first two but it’s done so well who can blame them? Plus, Pixar are never ones to rest on their laurels. The film is fresh, arguably funnier and more thrilling than its predecessors. The entire opening sequence is a wonderful way of starting the film, referencing everything from westerns to 50s sci-fi, whilst the attempted break out from Sunnyside is as hysterical as it is exciting. Then, of course, there’s Buzz channelling his inner Zorro, a simultaneously disturbing and funny clapping-monkey (Close Encounters homage, perchance?) and Ken’s constant protests that he is by no means a girl’s toy.
What works especially well is the perfect voice-casting. Whilst the majority of animated films flounder with an A-list cast, Pixar prefer to go for actual talent. Hanks, Allen and Cusack maintain their high level but the new additions are equally impressive. Ken is aided by the sardonic tones of Michael Keaton whilst the bitter Lotso benefits from the gravelly experience of Ned Beatty. That’s not to mention the wonderful use of Timothy Dalton as the fabulous lederhosen-wearing, thespian hedgehog, Mr Pricklepants.
It’s not just the laughs and the action that makes Toy Story 3 a genuine five star film. As shown in Up and Wall.E, Pixar are adept at having you doubling up with laughter one minute and bawling into a tissue the next. This is no more evident than in Toy Story 3. The film, though essentially a comedy, is also an exploration in letting go. Watching Andy boxing his stuff away for college, listening to his mum choke up when saying goodbye and seeing the remainders of a childhood shoved into a bin bag chokes you. I was six years old when Toy Story was released and on the cusp of twenty-dom when the third came out back in July. For the first time I was confronting the fact that I was actually becoming an adult and everything within the film is a reminder, particularly for our generation who grew up with them all, that you can’t be a kid forever. It’s little things like a wheezing old pooch waddling to Woody’s whistle rather than the enthusiastic puppy of the first two. Life goes on, things change and everything must come to an end. There’ll be a few tears and, by few, I obviously mean a gazillion. You’ll cry at the thought of never seeing the gang again and you’ll cry because it’s the end of an era, not just for the toys but for you as well. Letting go? It’s not child’s play.
Toy Story 3 will be showing at LU Cinema on Saturday and Sunday, Week Two (October 23 & 24) at 7:30pm.