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Saturday June 19, 2010
Toy Story 3: A Shining, Perfect Capstone
At the end of Toy Story 2 eleven years ago I was pleased with what I felt to be the closing chapter of the franchise. The toys knew that Andy would someday grow up, but they were committed to living happily anyway.
I went into Toy Story 3 fearful, because the shadow looming ominously in the distance behind the previous "happily ever after" had me convinced that this film really couldn't send me home as happy as either of the first two.
I'm pleased to announce that I was wrong. Pixar pulled it off, and made this film the most powerful, most wonderful of the trilogy. In addition, Pixar has reaffirmed my belief that if you want to make a good film, start by setting the cost per frame absurdly high, and then let that inform your process so that you create a story that is worth every last one of those precious, precious frames.
(Note: I suspect this also applies to comics, though probably not to my comic. "Precious, precious panels" just aren't what I usually end up creating.)
Toy Story 3 is my third favorite movie of the summer, and because of how brilliant it was I feel compelled to justify this placement to you.
First, while it defied some of my expectations, it also lived up to others. I expect the heroes and the villians of a Toy Story film to reach certain formulaic ends. The plot twists that get them there are always interesting, and almost always surprising, but the emotional state at the end of the film is predictable. I know, I know, that's an awfully high bar for a film to clear, let alone a third film in a franchise. I'm being picky.
Second, this film had some slow moments. My friend Dan Willis pointed out that these moments were there in support of wonderful moments later in the movie, and that their slow pacing was probably required given the dead run of the climax, but again, I'm being picky. If I get bored, even for just half a minute, I say so.
Third, the Toy Story mythos is one that shakes me loose a lot. Every so often I watch a toy and begin to wonder about the instincts that drop them back in the same place they were left, and whether they have to consciously think about it, or if they feel OCD coming on if they leave themselves someplace other than where Andy dropped them. I compare them to the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who, and speculate as to the possibility that toys are actually quantum locked in some occasionally breakable way.
In short, yes, I was fine with the A-Team flying a tank by firing its main gun, but when Woody hang-glides over the playground they lost me. My brain is a peculiar place, and my Suspenders of Disbelief are probably on crooked.
None of those complaints are any reason to not see the film. It's a powerful story that is, as the title of this post suggests, the perfect capstone to the Toy Story franchise.