Sunday, August 15, 2010

Toy Story 3 (2010)

If I were still under 12 I imagine I would have found parts of this apparently final episode of the trilogy fairly traumatic. Or maybe the very young have less invested in these characters than us nostalgic oldies.

Anyway, truth is that I DID find parts of this film hair-raising; there's a unnerving undercurrent borrowed from the darker political and horror fantasies which meshes with the slow-burn chill delivered by the prevailing theme of putting away childish things. It's nicely balanced so that whatever your age, this movie will leave its little scratch mark on you.

The writers are clearly aware that fifteen years have passed since the first installment and play to the various niggles of nostalgia and regret at work within their audience: children that have become adults, adults that have become parents, parents who have watched their children flee the nest.

Salon's Andrew O'Hehir has unearthed another note of irony baked into the trilogy:

"What's a little more troubling, at least to me, is the way that Pixar movies honor the very things they themselves are replacing. It's a little like the way shopping malls are often named after geographical features now buried under the parking lot: Cottonwood Creek Centre, or Sawgrass Mills. "Cars" might be the epitome of this Pixar tendency, a story about an old-fashioned small town inhabited by automobiles -- that was doomed by the rise of the automobile. In the same way, the "Toy Story" films depict children who play imaginatively with old-fashioned, low-tech toys like Buzz and Woody all day, instead of zoning out in front of "Toy Story" films. I'm not sure whether to call that hypocrisy or self-criticism or appealing fantasy; I can only wish it resembled real life."

Shortly after the first Toy Story film I bought some shares in Pixar Animation. Every year the firm used to send me some freebies including beautiful wall posters which I still have, rolled up in a box in our bodega, the closest thing we have here to an attic. As for the shares, I kept them for a while after they tranformed themselves into Disney stock, but not for long.

Toy Story 3
is a great film (and it's hard to disagree with Dr K that it represents the last piece in what is now the greatest movie trilogy of all time), but perhaps because of my own life experience it doesn't quite feel as thrilling as the first two — especially the second — and in spite of the genius of its realisation in terms of both words and images, the whole product resembles just that, a product, with the kind of essentially formulaic plotting which has recently undermined Wallace and Gromit's big screen outings. And am I reading too much into things when I detect a hit of promotion in the hilarious set piece scenes involving Ken and Barbie?

Still, arguably the best flick of 2010 so far, and certainly the most thrilling summer action movie. (We're off to see Inception next week. Can't wait!)

Grade: A-

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