Toy Story 3

Given that it’s apparently just broken box-office records for an opening day of an animated film, it’s perhaps appropriate timing for me to talk a bit about Toy Story 3, which I saw at a special E3 premiere in LA this week.

I missed seeing the first film when it came out, only getting around to watching it on its TV debut. If I recall correctly, when my wife and I first started going out she went to see it with a group of friends without me, and so I may well have held a ridiculous grudge against it for a while. Either way, I recall enjoying the second much more. For me, it showed the progression Pixar had made in the intervening years, in including a strong emotional thread to its films, the kind of thing which ensures its films appeal to adults just as much as kids.

It’s fair to say the third film takes this a step further, with some genuinely moving moments as the toys come to terms with their waning importance to their owner, Andy, as he gets ready to attend college. Later scenes put the toys in genuine peril from which you can never be entirely sure they’re going to emerge safely. And without wanting to spoil anything, the final scenes are much quieter than the noisy, fantastical opening and left me feeling pretty choked up.

Yet there’s plenty for the kids, too – the gags come thick and fast, there’s plenty of slapstick, and the action’s as thrilling as in any Pixar film. It’s a little darker in places than the previous two, with a couple of toys managing to thoroughly creep out the audience of adults attending the screening. But it’s only likely to genuinely scare very young children, and there’s never long to wait for another laugh line.

Over the course of three films, Pixar has managed to spin an epic yarn about a group of kids’ toys, and filled their tale with meditations on the nature of love and of loss while simultaneously providing hearty family entertainment. That’s quite the achievement. From the original’s brilliant opening to a finish here that’s sheer perfection, the Toy Story trilogy deserves a place amongst the finest film franchises ever created.

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