June 19, 2010


My love for Pixar started with the first Toy Story movie back in 1995. Since then, the studio has maintained its reputation for making quality films with heartwarming stories and fantastic eye-popping animation. I must confess I was a bit apprehensive about the (presumably) final installment of Toy Story because some franchises don't know when or how to stop. But Pixar showed us that a trilogy can end on a perfect note.

Andy is leaving for college, and his favorite toys mistakenly end up in a day care center where they think they could happily spend their retirement years. There they meet Lots-o'-Huggin' bear (Ned Beatty), metrosexual Ken (Michael Keaton), Chatter Telephone (Teddy Newton), among other toys, including a scary Big Baby. (Sidenote: Andy's sister Molly's Barbie was voiced by Jodi Benson.) Our gang quickly learns that things are not as sunny as it appears to be in Sunnyside. Led by the intrepid Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), they must find a way to break out to be reunited with Andy.

The film is hysterically funny and clever, from the sight gags to the witty lines. Spanish Buzz is a hoot. You will love the little girl Bonnie(Emily Hahn) and her achingly cute toys that include Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), Trixie (Kristen Schaal), and Dolly (Bonnie Hunt). There are also homages to old westerns, prison escape films, even Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible, and most fittingly, Hayao Miyazaki (look out for the forest keeper Totoro). It just proves how much the geniuses at Pixar love movies. It is a darker, exciting thrill ride (I heard one teenager say "this is so stressful!") as the band of courageous toys find themselves in peril at every turn. But the final act left me in tears, bringing the saga of these toys to a wonderful end.

Pixar was brilliant in turning around children's fears of toys coming alive when we're not looking. Instead, they were benevolent and loving watchers. The 3 Toy Story films deal with family, community, loyalty, love, and loss. They tell us that life is transient. This was a lesson that Lotso the bear didn't learn. He chose anger, pride, regret, and bitterness. The film's end brought to my mind the lyrics from the Broadway musical Next to Normal, "the price of love is loss...but still we pay...we love anyway." Bravo director Lee Unkrich, writers Michael Arndt and John Lasseter, and the other gifted minds and artists at Pixar! Thank you very much. I hope you win the Oscar again.

Get to the theater early so you don't miss the short film Day and Night. More Pixar excellence.

(photo from Impawards)


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