Before I begin, I know that in my last post I implied that I would be reviewing some sort of Roleplaying Game. I freely admit that it was the original plan, but it turned out that writing a review of Dungeons & Dragons was a bit more difficult than I had originally anticipated. I do plan to finish that review, but I have to review some object of vague interest at the moment, so I guess Toy Story 3 will work.
I'm not entirely sure where to start with this movie. I admit that I was not originally intending to see it after seeing the trailers - not to mention the steaming pile of "Why In God's Name Did I Pay For This?" that was Toy Story 2. I didn't even plan to see it the day I did - I simply read a good review and thought that I might give it a shot that afternoon.
Before I get to the potentially offensive bits, I do not dislike this movie. It was a strong film, and definitely something for Pixar Studios to be proud of. But it's certainly no great masterpiece, either, and I'm pretty sure that it will be one of the ones that you won't remember within a few years.
Like these, just without the fail.
Toy Story 3 just can't seem to figure out exactly what kind of movie it wants to be. It jumps from painfully stupid to wonderfully charming to eye-melting depression without any particular transition period. It's like a bipolar Shakespearean actor on meth, and that's just the first 15 minutes. We're faced with that same rapid-fire mood shifts throughout the whole movie, which gives TS-3 a frantic pace that can be a bit disorienting at times. This movie definitely suffers from Ratatouille syndrome - where the writers packed so much action into the movie that there's no room left over for a rest.
The voice acting is... decent. We do get the good performances that we have come to expect from Tom Hanks (Woody) and Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), and a great show from Ned Beatty as Lotso, the film's strawberry-scented villain. However, these three are marred by those of just about everyone else, whose performances range from mediocre to downright painful. The worst of it comes from Joan Cusack as Jessie, who I wanted to strangle, set on fire, defenestrate, blow up, dissolve in acid, disembowel, draw and quarter, and decapitate every time she opened her mouth.
"YEE-HAW, I ruined a franchise!"
But despite Cusack's best efforts, the movie still manages to have some truly entertaining moments. The sequence where the heroes break out of Sunnyside being one of the best, the whole sequence being an excellent homage to The Great Escape. There are also some moments where Pixar's brilliance does shine through, showing some poignant humanity from these plastic characters. Late in the movie there is a moment when the characters fall into a trap, and it seems that there is no escape. Instead of cheesy screaming and other antics that one might expect to find in this sort of film, they simply hold each other's hands and wait for the inevitable, simply taking comfort in the fact that if they must die, they do not have to do so alone. It's an incredibly powerful moment, and that's something that so many animated movies these days seem to lack.
Of course, the movie can be brutal at times, especially towards children. Seriously, this movie has some moments that had the children in the theater bawling.
This is where your loyal childhood friends will end up. Thanks to you, you little bastards.
I won't spoil the ending, but I will tell you that, assuming you have a soul, you will probably tear up sometime near the end of this film. It's not a sad ending, per se, but it makes you face so much nostalgia from when you were a kid that you will find yourself missing the days when life was a series of adventures between yourself and your favorite toys.
Would I recommend you see this movie? That honestly depends on who you are - Toy Story 3 is certainly not a film for everyone. While it's true that the acting is hit-and-miss and the story feels schizophrenic and rushed, it is a Pixar movie, and while it probably won't be remembered as one of its classics, it does have a good amount of the charm and thoughtfulness that we have come to expect from... most of what Pixar makes.
Final Grade: B