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Sunday, 12 September 2010

Toy Story 3

Pixar haven’t put a foot wrong in any serious fashion since the first Toy Story well over a decade ago, so for once the “3” in the title is not a massive flashing warning sign. We all know the score with Pixar (The Incredibles, Up, Finding Nemo) by now: of course it’s going to be well animated, of course it’s going to have plenty of thrilling action sequences (the opening sequence here is pretty much their best yet), of course it’s going to have a Randy Newman song or two in there - but are the characters still going to be interesting enough in their third feature-length outing to make this feel like a proper movie?

The good news is yes, and then even better news is that this one actually manages to make the three films feel like, if not a trilogy, then at least a proper series rather than just the same film three times over. The story here is simple: Andy, the owner of cowboy Woody (the voice of Tom Hanks), spaceman Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the toys (though not all of them: the cast has been thinned for this film) is old enough to go to college. Thanks to a packing mix-up, his toys end up donated to a day care center that only seems like the perfect place for them, while Woody - who knows there’s been a mistake, as he’s the only toy Andy’s chosen to take to college - tries to get everyone to return to Andy.

There are a few mildly scary moments that might be a bit much for very small kids (this feels like a film made with one eye on kids who grew up with the series) and one heart-in-mouth moment that will probably hit older viewers harder than kids, but this is pure Pixar entertainment all the way and the mix of comedy and drama and excitement is as pitch-perfect as you could ask for. But be warned: the ending, while perfectly in keeping with the rest of the film and in many ways the best possible result for all concerned, is also pretty much the most savage and brutal tear-jerker seen since the opening of Pixar's last film Up. It’s not a spoiler because the film lays it out from the very start, but still: if you have separation issues, bring tissues.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #479)

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