This is why we go to the movies

2010-06-28 00:00

TOY Story 3 is a stellar example of why we go to movies. The third in a franchise often gets stale, but this is as modern a film as you will encounter, and simultaneously as vintage as the toys themselves. It’s a profound and fun film, not through any surprising razzle-dazzle, but in its conventional approach to telling a story. You find yourself feeling the moment before actually seeing it unfold; and yet as predictable as the moments in Toy Story 3 are, the film leaves you with a sense of profound nostalgia as it contemplates issues of mortality, human value and memory.

As an introduction we’re re-acquainted with the Toy Story characters through the boy Andy’s vivid playtime ritual, where genres are seemlessly morphed together. However, we’re soon into the crisis at hand, in which cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks) and astronaut Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) are toys in crisis. Andy, who gave the toys a home, is off to college. He’s outgrown his playthings, including cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn), and the Potatoheads (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris). Andy plans to put his toys in the attic, but instead, they end up in trash bags, mistakenly kicked to the kerb to await the garbage truck.

Children will identify with the sense of powerlessness in the wake of adults’ decisions; while adults will know more about their inevitable obsolescence. True to Pixar’s continuity of its productions, Andy is voiced again by John Morris — who, 11 years on, is part of a generation who grew up with the magic of Toy Story and the films after it.

The adventure is vast and intriguing, as the toys end up at Sunnyside Day Care Centre. Here there’s plenty on the go with fellow toys Barbie (Jodi Benson) and Ken (Michael Keaton), as well as a big bear maned Lotso (Ned Beatty), whose agenda isn’t as cute and fluffy as his appearance.

Like last year’s Up, Toy Story 3 is far more profound that it appears, taking its audience through a wide spectrum of emotion. The story moves through scenes effortlessly (which was surely not an effortless task) and engages genres and ideas with equal amounts of childlike playfulness and parental sensitivity. This film is one of the year’s best.

*****

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