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Reach for the sky

TOY STORY 3

On wikipedia, the entry for this starts with “Toy Story 3 is a 2010 American 3D computer-animated film.” Incorrect. I saw it in 2D. That makes it a 2D computer animated film.

I wanted to be consistent. I saw the last two like that and didn’t want my experience tainted by the low luminosity that often plagues many of these 3D movies (Up was a perfect example). These are children’s movies; they work best when the color, not the image, pops off the screen.

So I’m pleased to report this was still great without 3D. The storytelling was as clever as ever, and visually I think this was the most epic journey yet. It is strange this started as a straight to video project, and ended up in theaters grossing more money over the first weekend than any other Pixar movie in history. Fire the guy who wanted it straight to DVD, promote the guy who wanted to move it into theaters. And if it was the same guy, fire him, then sit him down over lunch explaining it was just a company joke and promote him.

I presume the reason it would have gone to video first was because the original cast wasn’t signed on from the beginning. What’s another Toy Story installment without the voices that we know and love? Jim Varney, the voice of Ernest and Slinky, passed away after the sequel (R.I.P.). But they found a really great replacement for him in character actor Blake Clark. They brought the kid back who played Andy to voice him again. I thought that was a great coup. And very appropriate for this film, since it emphasizes Andy’s character more than the previous two movies combined.

That is where I started getting a little teary eyed. In the final minutes of the film, Andy explains the significance of every toy and what they meant to him. And thinking about it, I know why it was so moving. It’s because the way he relates to the toys is the way we always related to them. They’re just as much a part of us as they are for Andy.

In 15 years, since the first movie was released, a lot has changed. Namely, all of us grew up. We put childish things behind us. When the third movie opens Andy has already done that.

With that parallel what you get is a richer experience for both adults and children to appreciate. And I think with this third film the unexpected has happened. With the higher emotional peaks come with it the lowest troughs. There is a scene where every toy grabs each other by the hand in a metal incinerator, accepting their possible destruction. And you know what? I almost bought it. I was this close to thinking that’s how this movie was going to end. That is how tight this film straps you in for the ride. It is my highest compliment to their storytelling.

Pull the string on Woody and he says, “reach for the sky.” I think Pixar did it with this trilogy (and seriously, when haven’t they?). This series ends on a shot of the blue sky with fluffy white clouds. Watching it I remembered that was also how the series began.

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