Monday, June 28, 2010

Movie Review: Toy Story 3

I don't think I can imagine a way that this capstone to Pixar's beloved trilogy could have been better. It's got something for everyone: action, comedy, romance, family (the good kind and the bad kind), nail-biting escapes, daring rescues, loyalty, betrayal, in-jokes, a catchy soundtrack, a cameo by a famous cartoon icon, and Buzz Lightyear dancing an exquisitely-choreographed flamenco.

Everything about this film is perfect. The featurette before the movie ("Night & Day") is one of Pixar's most successful, boundary-pushing experiments yet, and if the first scene of the movie proper (a daring train-robbery which seamlessly incorporates every toy in Andy's collection) doesn't have you laughing with delight, then you need to seriously reexamine your outlook on life.

All the characters are endearing and interesting, without being saccharine or using to cheap emotional hooks. Every one of the toys (and humans) in this movie feels like someone I know personally, with likes and dislikes and personal tastes which aren't easy to predict. They're fully-formed. Three-dimensional.

Which segues nicely into my next point: Pixar's use of 3D. It's rare to see a movie which so seamlessly and unobtrusively uses the third dimension to such powerful effect. Instead of shoving sharp objects into the viewer's eye (lest you forget why you paid $13 for a ticket instead of $9), the camera steps back from the action, allowing the 3D to enhance the sense of place and setting, coaxing the viewer into the movie's space, making you feel like you're standing right by Woody's side. As if you were a conversant rather than an audience-member.

And this reduction of space, this transgression of the fourth wall, is in my opinion what allows this film to have such deep emotional resonance. It seems strange to speak of empathy in relation to a group of inanimate objects, but the cast is affecting and, dare I say it?, vulnerable. In essence, this film is a long ode to the painful-yet-beautiful necessity of growing up.

I was several times reminded of Paul of Tarsus: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" [1 Corinthians 13:11]. It does not say that he "threw away" or "forgot" about childish things. The trappings of childhood should be placed safely, lovingly, into the hands of another. They should be honored, not by being locked in a box, but cared-for by one who will truly understand their significance. It is difficult to part with them, though in the end we all must. But this does not mean they are forgotten, or wasted.

A new chapter needs a clean page in order to be written. But the old chapters are still part of the story, and their resonance will be felt all the way to the last chapter, the final page, and the closing of the book.


  1. I have to say your link was a little incomprehensible to me, partly because it wasn't in English, and partly because I simply don't know what cartoon icon you could be referring to. Oh well.

  2. "My Neighbor Totoro," by Hayao Miyazaki, 1988
    It's a movie about two little girls who move with their father to a new house in the country, and discover that they have a very unusual neighbor: a giant, magical, catlike creature whom they name "Totoro."

    I'll change the link to something more comprehensible. I just assumed that most of my friends would know what it was about.

    Have you really never seen "My Neighbor Totoro"? I must fix this...