Toy Story 3

Tuesday June 22nd 2010

I was four years old when Toy Story was released in 1995. It was the first film I saw at the cinema, and I remember returning for second, third and fourth viewings before the end of its theatrical run. After its VHS release, I would watch it several times a week, reciting dialogue and collecting all the tie-in shit I could get my hands on. The second film arrived in 1999, and my love of the series continued.  To this day, I have seen the first two Toy Story films infinitely more times than any other movie, and have owned them on each successive home video format. I love them and always will.

So it’s with a heavy heart that I admit that I don’t love Toy Story 3.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means adding my name to the list of pointlessly contrary critics who have slated the movie for the stupidest fucking reasons imaginable, presumably in search of attention and publicity…

In fact, it’s by no means a bad movie. It’s almost always engaging, the 3D is absolutely perfect and the characters are right on point. But compared to its predecessors, it falls down in several areas.

It lacks the humour of the second movie, and the structural perfection of the first, and where both of those had simple, universal messages at their cores, Toy Story 3 often gets lost. It spends much of its time repeating stuff from the first sequel (let’s not forget that the ‘what about when Andy grows up?’ question was already dealt with in Toy Story 2 – and with more subtlety) and seems to change its mind a lot about what it’s trying to say. Across the 108-minute runtime, the toys’ eventual goal changes at least five times – first they want to go to college with Andy, now they want to go in the attic, now they want to go to the daycare centre, etc. – until any sense of direction is completely lost.

An avalanche of new characters, while all very cute and likable, don’t help to clarify the situation – and most are only given a couple of lines.

That said, Toy Story 3 is head and shoulders above the rest of this summer’s big movies, and could only be called disappointing given the incredibly high benchmark set by Buzz and Woody’s first two adventures. Despite its flaws, it retains the innocence, charm and (some of) the wit of the classics, and handles some potentially difficult subjects with Pixar’s now-trademark ingenuity.

Bringing to an end a fifteen year journey that’s been AWOL for the last eleven, I can’t help thinking that this final entry, while not comparable to its predecessors, was at least the best ending we could have hoped for.

F.A.O. Rotten Tomatoes review-collecters: Don’t you dare classify this as a negative review. The last thing I need on my hands is an internet hate-campaign (even if I could use the hits…)