The reviews have been staggeringly positive, and it seems everyone and their mother already went to see PIXAR‘s latest animated feature over the weekend. I find myself wondering what more I can add about this wonderful sequel that hasn’t already been dissected and placed high up on a pedestal.
I’ll start by saying I don’t think it is better than Toy Story 2. I don’t think it is better than PIXAR’s last 3 achievements (UP, Wall·E, Ratatouille), but I do find it on par with Toy Story and I believe over time its many charms will only grow on me with each repeat viewing. There is simply too much going on to soak every last detail in a single viewing.
Made with real care and keen sense for the material by Lee Unkrich, making his first solo effort after co-directing 3 previous PIXAR films, and written by Michael Arndt, Oscar winner for Little Miss Sunshine. Surprisingly, for a film stuffed with jokes, set pieces, and painstaking detail (in the characters and on the wall), the plot is pretty straight forward. Buzz and Woody’s owner, Andy, is going to college and has to decide what to do with his old cherished playthings (the ones that have survived this long). It’s a great starting off point that allows our heroes and their plastic pals (Hamm, Rex, Jessie, Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head) to have another adventure where they get trapped somewhere without their owner and have to get back home just in the nick of time. The difference in part 3 is their owner is all grown up and must put away childish things, and so, the film is given a gut-shot of emotion and poignancy. We all know nothing lasts, and this film (which is still tons 0′ fun for children) explores this fact as well as the ideas of loyalty, aging, love, betrayal and acceptance.
There’s a wonderful scene near the end, which contains my favorite moment in the film and maybe the whole series; it’s a perfect encapsulation of both the theme of this film and everything else that has happened to these characters up until this one moment. It is sad, beautiful, and one of the best things PIXAR has ever done. It’s a powerful moment that pushes the characters and the suspense to the brink, like nothing I’ve ever seen in a kids film (or any film for that matter). Plus, it features a pretty awesome (and literal) Deus Ex Machina, which is no easy feat.
A pure delight from the prologue (which mirrors Toy Story 2‘s playtime opening only this time literal and hilarious) to the epilogue (which pulls off the trick of wrapping everything up yet leaving you wanting more) and all the great action, laughs, and heartache in between.
Note: Not seen in cash guzzling 3D
Also, there is a short attached to the film (like all PIXAR films) called Day & Night. It is a neat combination of CG and hand drawn animation. It’s hard to explain but it is pretty clever but not great, one of the lesser PIXAR shorts but still pretty fascinating.