TIM LINCE: Toy Story 3

Starring (the voices of) Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Michael Keaton. Directed by Lee Unkrick. Released July 23 2010. Certificate PG. Genre – Animated Comedy.

My thoughts before

IN preparation for watching Toy Story 3 – possibly one of the most eager anticipated sequels of all-time – I spent much of my weekend watching the first two films.

And what a beautiful reminder of how timeless, hilarious and fresh they still seem today.

The adventures of Woody, Buzz, Slinky and Shark (a little featured character but definitely my favourite) lit up my own childhood back in 1995 (I know!) and the ingenious writing and animation team of Pixar have gone on to illuminate millions of children’s lives since.

So it’s with predictable anticipation that I watch this sequel, set roughly 10 years after the originals when Andy is off to college.

Pixar has arguably been on a brilliant role recently, with Wall-E and Up in consecutive years, and this could be a brilliant double hat-trick – creating three classic movies in a row and one of the best trilogies too.

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And for those looking forward to it as much as I am, check out these ‘Toy Story Treats’, made for American television to promote the first movie (the link is a Youtube playlist and should autoplay through all of the minute-long shorts): http://tinyurl.com/toystorytreats. The first one even features Shark!

It’ll be a grand shock if Toy Story 3 disappoints (even the trailers have been brilliant) so I’m doubly confident and excited.


THEY’VE done it again.

Fifteen years ago, when I was only eight years old, I entered the cinema and was enthralled and amazed at the visuals on the screen and overjoyed by the thrilling and funny story that lay before me. It was relatable and flared that imagination I had bubbling inside me.

And now, at 23, Toy Story 3 brought similar emotions back. I felt, for times at least, like the eight year old again – smiling at the one-liners and visual jokes from the characters and braced by the genuinely thrilling storyline.

But in another sense the film also tore me apart from that eight year old that I sometimes look back on with admiration.

As the final 20 minutes played out, in what was clearly the conclusion of the film and the trilogy, I felt a sort of closure on my childhood. I’d imagine anyone who can remember watching the original – be it as children, parents, teenagers, anyone – will possibly feel a similar closure too.

In at least the last couple of films, though it’s been a gradual evolution over a decade, Pixar has perfected the art of tugging at the heart-strings. It doesn’t feel forced and it doesn’t go for the really easy ways to stir tears up – they latch onto things that every single viewer can personally find something to relate too.

I thought of all of my old toys that are still in my bedroom at my parents’ house, I thought of all the stresses of life now compared to back then, I thought of the innocent imagination I had and the Woody and Buzz-type toys I had. My old Sonic (the hedgehog) toy I had from about the age of three – just laying in a box now.

And as the camera rolled up and the credits began to role, tears smeared across my face, a closure of my childhood seemed to cast over me.

But enough with the emotion of it all, as many I’m just an overly sensitive type, many of you will simply be wondering – ‘is this as good as the first two?’

And the answer is, frustratingly, yes and no.

The trouble with the first two is we have the sparkly eyes of the past and of repeated viewings and the fond memories of youth to compare it to.

I think, however, Toy Story 3 is the perfect sequel and with a few more watches and perhaps some time to get over the initial hype it will stand as ‘just as good’ as the first two.

The script is as sharp and witty as the originals thankfully, although they have yanked up the fear factor quite a bit. You thought the deformed toys in Spike’s bedroom in the first movie were scary? Wait ‘til you see the baby doll and the drumming monkey in this!

At times, in fact, I thought it was perhaps not appropriate for kids and would definitely need parents there for the youngsters – as the main plot came to a conclusion (I don’t want to spoil anything though) there was a scene that was very edge-of-your-seat thrilling and scary.

One slight flaw, that wasn’t really a biggy, is there was distinct lack of charming little movie references like the first two were filled with. Apart from the obvious Great Escape one, and a lovely visual reference from My Neighbour Totoro, I didn’t see too many – but maybe I’ll be rewarded with repeat watches.

There was also no Shark, which may just be a personal disappointment.

But Toy Story 3 takes the charm and magic of the first two and you soon forget there’s been more than 10 years since the last one – although the animation naturally pushes the limits on what computer animation can achieve (though I personally think Wall-E will be forever difficult to top).

Woody is still the brave, Buzz is still full of swagger moves, Hamm is still oddly knowledgeable about everything and Rex is still adorably clumsy – the old favourites return and with enough nods to the past to meet demand and that weird sadness that they have seemingly aged in real-time like I have. Ten years or so have passed for them too, in their fictional world, as kid Andy has now grown up.

It asks the dilemma – in a stressful world of constant change is it best to let go and move on (as Andy was) or to desperately hold on to the past, hoping things will return to that happiness it once was (as Woody strives to do)?

Toy Story 3 I think answers this in the only way it could, via it’s enthralling story to please the new kids of the generation (who definitely won’t appreciate this as we will).

So this is exactly as you remember it but with a huge sprinkling of melancholy, action, new characters and old references. It won’t feel right at first, you’ll be unsure whether this whole change of environment and lack of some of the old characters should necessarily be canon but by the end you’ll agree that it is exactly as it should be – this is braver and more challenging than any Toy Story sequel could have been and, hell, if this is the ‘official’ end of my childhood then what a perfect way to end it.