As adults, we tend to remember our childhood from events or things that were really important to us whether it is a vacation or our favorite toy. The latter thing is the one that we tend to take for granted the most. We grow up and we try to stop being childish, and it is not until later, when we come across such toy that we remember the joy that it brought us (like Citizen Kane). Since when I was growing up my family lived on a day-by-day basis, I could never have nice toys, but I do have nice memories of those that I did have, particularly of a little white teddy bear that I think was lost somewhere. One thing that I do have fond memories of is the first Toy Story. It came out when I was five years old, but I do remember all the buzz that led to its release. I never did see it in theaters (until last year), but my dad did all he could to find me a pirated VHS, and I freaking loved the movie. Even my oldest brother bought me a little but very cool Buzz Lightyear for my birthday with his entire salary for two weeks. I equally loved the sequel.
So, 11 years went by, and I only watched them a couple of times since until I bought them on Blu-ray. So, to say that I was highly anticipating the third installment is an understatement. I was my most anticipated movie ever. So, as I watched it I felt what one feels when they encounter something from their childhood. It’s not the same thing, but memories flood back in. And not only did it meet my extremely high expectations, it went above and beyond them.
Toy Story 3 opens with an action scene involving Woody (Tom Hanks), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Buzz (Tim Allen), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Slinky Dog (Blake Clark) and Hamm (John Ratzengberger). This scene takes place inside the mind of Andy and it recalls the scenes that he put out during the first two movies. Then we see images of Andy growing up and playing with his toys. Then, we see him as a 17-year-old going to college. His toys haven’t been played with in a while, and they feel sad about it. So Andy starts packing up his stuff, singling out Woody to take him to college and puts the rest in a garbage bag to store in the attic. But through a series of unfortunate events the toys barely escape being thrown away, at which point they decide that they want to be donated to Sunnyside Day Care. Once they get there they think that it is going to be heaven, as they are sure to be played with every day. But it turns out that nothing is what it seems, and they have to escape and get back to Andy before he leaves for college.
In my opinion, Toy Story 3 is a perfect movie. It works as a stand-alone movie, but it is also a perfect ending to what possibly is the most beloved franchise of all time. It not only captures the magic of the previous two installments, but it also improves on them by taking on a darker theme of what it means to grow older and possibly be forgotten. And it is dealt with in such a wonderful way that it just takes my breath away. Credit for this must be given to writer Michael Arndt and director Lee Unkrich. Arndt, who won an Oscar for his brilliant work in Little Miss Sunshine, does a fantastic job of fitting this theme to the character that we all know and love. Unkrich, meanwhile, makes the story his own without taking this world in a different direction of the two previous installments. Also, props to them for those last twenty minutes. I could not believe that a movie about plastic toys was making me cry. I could not hold back the tears, and I was on the verge of sobbing. I had to bite my finger to keep from doing that. Hell, I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.
Of course it would not have been great if it weren’t for the cast. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris,Wallace Shawn, and John Ratzenberger slip back into their roles as if no time had gone by. Blake Clark does a great job of replacing Jim Varney, who sadly passed away before this movie was in the works, as Slinky Dog. Then of course there are the new additions to the cast, the best of them being Michael Keaton, perfectly cast as Ken. There is also Ned Beatty as Lotso, the leader of the Daycare toys, Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants, a Shakespearean actor, Kristen Shchaal as Trixie, a dinosaur, Bonnie Hunt as a Dolly, and many more.
Then there is the animation. The toys never looked better. In fact, from the moment I saw the first trailer, my jaw dropped. Randy Newman’s music is as strong as ever, and without it the ending would not have had the impact that it did (oh, here I go getting teary-eyed again).
Toy Story 3, simply put is a masterpiece. As I said, it is the perfect way to end the saga of Woody and his gang. So, I would like to thank every one involved in the making of the trilogy, from John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Joss Whedon, to Lee Unkrich, Michael Anrndt, and the cast of the three films for providing me with great memories that I will carry my whole life. And I feel sorry for those who didn’t grow up with these movies and had to wait 11 year for the last installment, because although they will love them as much as everyone, it will not be the end of an era like for those of us who grew up with Andy. So, again, thank you very much Pixar, and I leave you all with this :