Friday, October 5, 2012

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3; CGI animated fantasy comedy, USA, 2010; D: Lee Unkrich, S: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Whoopi Goldberg
Andy grew into a teenager who is about to leave for college, which means that he is not playing with his toys anymore. Due to a misunderstanding, his mother accidentally throws the toys into garbage, but they land into a day care centre. At first, they are overwhelmed when a teddy-bear, Lotso, gives them a special place with the kids - but it turns out the kids are pre-school, i.e. wild and heavy handed when playing with toys. The toys want out, but Lotso doesn't want to let them so that he and the "elite toys" will be spared from them. Woody, Buzz, Jesse and others manage to escape and return to Andy, who donates them to a little girl.

"Toy Story 3", the 3rd movie, is the best and only truly great one of the "Toy Story" franchise ("Toy Story I" had the annoying character Sid and truly exploited its full potentials only in the 10-minute finale; "Toy Story II" had too many lukewarm jokes) that avoided the sugary overkill of some previous Pixar movies and cleverly turned the tables by transforming the story's main problem - Andy growing up - into a virtue: here the growing protagonist is more concerned with college and only has nostalgia value for his toys, who feel neglected, thereby paving the way for some themes about transience, the end of childhood and even mortality. Director Unkrich and screenwriter Michael Arndt never leave room for empty walks since almost every sequence is creative and highly inventive, but surprisingly always simple and thus universal at the same time, whether they are crafting clever humor (the jokes revolving around Barbie and Ken; Lots shutting up Mrs. Potato Head by taking her "lips" away; instead of cute kids, aggressive ones show up in the day care centre, like a stampede, upon which Buzz keeps his smile - but shuts his glass helmet for protection), clever references (a toy of Totoro) or just plain clever action sequences (Woody saved from the fall thanks to his string). Lots, a deceivingly cute teddy-bear, voiced by Ned Beatty, is a brilliant bad guy, who is not only showed as a dictator, but also *why* he became one. A few complaints could be raised towards the rather standard finale, where Lots unfortunately just remained a typical black and white bad guy, as well as the fact that the whole second half just seems like a giant prison escape plot, yet luckily a clearly happy ending was avoided and replaced with a very melancholic and bittersweet one: rarely did a CGI animated film reach such an emotional level as this one, matching the intensity of classic animation.


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