Rotten Tomatoes, the online movie review site I often use to gauge the critical popularity of a movie, recently rated Toy Story 3 at 99% positive. I’ve never seen a movie rate that high, and I’ve yet to see a negative review of the final installment of Pixar’s uber-powerhouse. Consider this yet another notch in the rave review column.
Much like The Empire Strikes Back is often considered the best of the Star Wars series by it’s fans, Toy Story 3 might well be the best installment of Woody and Buzz’s adventures. Both films are also the darkest, each with the toughest themes of their respective outings. Toy Story 3 deals with the melancholy aspects of growing up and leaving behind your childhood memories, the importance of sticking together as a family and finding your purpose as the people around you mature and move on; The Empire Strikes back is mostly about finding out who your father is and losing a hand in the deal.
I was warned well in advance that the movie left grown men shedding tears, especially within the last fifteen minutes. I wish I’d never been told that. Computer-generated toys, when combined with the right voice actors and juuuussttt the right soundtrack reduced me to shambles, trying to explain to the kids that “my allergies were really acting up in there.” It’s the loyalty of good friends who never give up on you, it’s the concept of facing irrelevance in this world, it’s all these grown up concepts in a kids movie that really got to me. I want a Buzz Lightyear in my life who constantly pulls my ass out of the fire. Who doesn’t want the undying loyalty of a friend like Woody? And the neurotic dinosaur Rex? We all have a friend like that, endearing in their idiotic innocence. From the Potato Heads and their alien children to Jessie & Bullseye and Slinky Dog, the mad geniuses at Pixar have captured perfectly all the people you’d want to move in to your own cul-de-sac, not to mention your toy box.
Probably the aspect that captured the dark and gripping heart of the movie best was the post-conveyor belt scene near the end. I don’t want to ruin this for those who haven’t seen the movie yet, so I won’t, but the seeming inevitability of the moment, and the courage with which these friends face the situation is gut-wrenching. When they grabbed each others pixelated hands in what seems to be a horrific demise, I couldn’t tell whose eyes were wider, mine or my boys . It’s a kids movie, so it turns out fine, but that moment, and you’ll know which one I’m referring to, is a throat squeezer.
To combat the constant roller coaster of heartbreak, the movie has several new noteworthy characters and enough not-so-subtle /witty adult banter to balance out the sad realization that this the finale in a masterful trio of films. Ken (of Barbie & Ken fame) and a classically trained hedgehog top the list of the best new additions, but it’s a Latin Buzz that really brought the obnoxious laughter out of my throat. He’s a romantic fool at his finest when he speaks Spanish, reviving the clueless Buzz that we met in the first installment of the series. His uncontrollable hip thrusting when he hears The Gipsy Kings later on? Wickedly priceless.
So thanks once again to Chris Louzader for giving me the opportunity to enjoy such a wonderful movie, to cry like an idiot in front of my kids and to remember why those Pixar people are the very best of the genre.
Overall Movie Rating: SUPER SOLID A++