Not all movie sequels are good. Sequels to animated children’s movies tend to be rather bad. Second (or, heaven forbid, third) sequels to such films tend to be so unspeakably awful they should never be mentioned in polite company. Take for instance the Shrek franchise. Or the Ice Age franchise. Or any number of direct-to-dvd followups to classic Disney flicks.
Amidst such painful exercises in mediocrity, Pixar stands out like a shining beacon of light and excellence. Time and time again, they manage to make intelligent, beautiful, genuinely emotional movies that are beloved by children and adults alike. I’m not going to lie to save my dignity – I completely and utterly adore Pixar. I could go on and on about the utter brilliance of The Incredibles, WALL*E, Up, and the others. They’re movies that I am sure I’ll never grow out of, ever. I can watch them over and over again and never grow weary of them. I am very sure I’ll be showing them to my children in years to come. For the sake of time and space, I’ll repress my ode to Pixar’s genius for now and save it for another day and post.
Yesterday, I went to see Toy Story 3. It’s the final installment featuring Buzz and Woody and the rest of their gang. These are characters that are very dear in the hearts of almost every child of my generation, not to mention millions of adults. It’s the franchise that, in the year I was born, changed the face of animation and children’s films forever. It’s the series that proved that sequels really can be just as good or better than the original. Naturally, expectations were through the roof.
And I can safely say that I wasn’t disappointed. It was everything that the end of the trilogy should have been: Often clever, often hilarious, and always entertaining. But to call it just a fun ride would be doing it an injustice. It’s a very entertaining children’s movie, yes… but with so much heart. It’s about a pack of fictional, animated, anthropomorphized bits of plastic. But it’s also about growing older, the end of childhood, the fear of the unknown and unfamiliar, and the terror of becoming unloved and obsolete.
I adored every minute of it.
I’m not going to go in too in depth and discuss the plot. Basically, little six-year-old Andy is all grown up and off to college. The toys are obviously no longer of any use, and so they end up being donated to the cheerily named Sunnyside Daycare center. What follows is the Toy Story take on a prison break/escape film.
Inevitably it goes over some thematic ground already covered by the first two films, but it doesn’t feel repetitive or unnecessary. It remains fresh and original, while still always building on the events and characters from Toy Story and Toy Story 2. The completely ingenious finale brought me to the verge of tears. Ask my brother; he’ll gleefully tell you of my mockable weakness. But you know what? I’m not ashamed.
Oh, one more thing – Day and Night, the Pixar short before the film is probably the best they’ve ever done. It’s incredible. The movie is worth seeing just for that.