When Pixar launched their first feature length animated film, Toy Story in 1995 they introduced the world to set of full-realised toy characters, loosely based on their award-winning short, Tin Toy After the original was heralded with critical praise and a very successful run at the box office, the decision was made to release a sequel in 1999. Cleverly titled Toy Story 2, the film continued the success of the original while further developing the incredibly popular set of characters. 11 years after their last outing, Pixar released the final part of what was now a trilogy. Toy Story 3 would win the Oscar for Best Animated Film at the 83rd Academy Awards and would go on to take over $1b at the worldwide box office.
Set years after the second film, Toy Story 3 sees Andy (John Morris) on the verge of going to college and his depleted collection of toys, sat in a chest, never used and awaiting the moment that they will be bagged up and put in the attic. While packing up his room, the toys are bagged up, but accidentally left on the curb to be collected by the trash man. Woody (Tom Hanks) the only toy to be packed for college, launches a daring one-man rescue operation to save them, but they all accidently end up at Sunnyside Daycare Centre. Determined to get back to Andy, Woody leaves, and the remaining toys, now lead by Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), meet the head toy at Sunnyside, a cuddly bear called Lots-O (Ned Beatty). While Woody ends up at a young girl’s house on his way home, the other toys realise that not everything is as it seems at the seemingly fun daycare centre.
It is clear how far technology and animation has come in the 15 years since the original film as Toy Story 3, which was also released in 3D looks cleaner and crisper than any other Pixar film. Every frame is populated with visual, slapstick gags and the kind of care and attention that you rarely get in films. Toy Story 3 completes Pixar’s opus and as such you can feel the love and passion exuding from each and every scene.
The voice acting is perfect as everyone knows their characters inside out, leading to the same quick-fire dialogue that helped make the first two films successful. Where Toy Story 3 possibly excels is the addition of side characters. While Jessie and Prospector were good, Ken (Michael Keaton) and Lots-O are a revelation. Their inclusion immediately amps up the laughter quotient and they are as memorable as any of the main leads. There is no stopping the jokes throughout and Toy Story 3 might be the funniest of the three films and they even find a funny new way to have Buzz Lightyear revert back to his original settings.
However nothing can prepare you for Toy Story 3’s final act. Never in animated film history has there been a moment of such powerful poignancy, pathos and heart-breaking tension. The scene in the rubbish dump especially, might one of the most incredible scenes in all of film never mind animated films. For years children, teenagers and adults have grown up with this cast of characters and director Lee Unkrich uses every ounce of that engagement and understanding to push the emotional reactions of the audience to the limit. What he is able to achieve by doing this is nothing short of spectacular.
Toy Story 3 completes Pixar’s first great series of stories and unlike so many others, each instalment builds on the previous work to create the single greatest trilogy of films. Every moment is deliberate and perfectly placed to create one of the best viewing experiences imaginable. More than anything the audience have grown to love the characters and this is our chance to say goodbye to Woody, Buzz and the gang and Pixar send them out with the biggest bang possible.