It's a movie that I have always chastised myself for only seeing once. I remember being slightly skeptical before going to see it. Like a great number of people, I'd grown up watching Toy Stories one and two, and couldn't see a way to justifiably add another film without ruining the first two. It would be like trying to add another testament to the Bible. Little did anyone expect that the third film would not only be worthy of such company, but it would actually embellish its predecessors to the point of making Toy Story one of the best movie trilogies of modern times. It would reduce the snootiest of film critics to tears and send a quiver through the peripheral nervous system of anyone who planted themselves in front of the cinema screen.
The iconic status of the first two certainly added a vital dimension to Toy Story 3. The whole to-infinity-and-beyond recognizability of the characters and story was already deep-rooted as a true modern Hollywood success story by 2010, ensuring that Toy Story was notable not only for its historical value as the first full-length fully computer generated film, but also as one of the greatest animated films ever made. Toy Story 2 came along four years after the original, and served, surprisingly, to better it. They were left to marinate for over a decade whilst Pixar built up an enviable reputation as the most reliably wonderful studio in Hollywood, churning out some of the best movies of the noughties - Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and WALL-E all within the space of four years. Just when everyone thought this astonishing run would be coming to an end, Toy Story 3 came along to show that, if anything, they were only getting better.
It begins as almost a personal message to the kids who were just old enough to see the original in the cinema. Andy, the heartwarmingly innocent and imaginative owner of the titular gang of toys, has, like them, reached the age where he has left school and is preparing to leave behind the symbols of his childhood that have become irrelevant. You'd be forgiven for thinking this was aimed at those in their late teens, as if Pixar have tempted them back with the promise of a nostalgic return to the franchise and hit them with this emotional power station of a film to secure them as fans for life - so they don't follow Andy's lead and embrace the symbols of their childhood.
There's far more to the story than that, though. When the toys are donated to Sunnyside Daycare Centre, Woody is torn away from his friends by his desire to return to Andy. In this aspect, the film is just as much about the importance of moving on from your early obsessions for the benefit of those around you. Buzz, Slinky, Rex, Mr and Mrs Potato Head and everyone else find themselves at the mercy of the tyrannical Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear, dictator of the toys of Sunnyside. Woody is forced to leave his fruitless goal and his past behind and take responsibility for the safety of his friends. They end up being put into more danger than ever before and having to stick together and rely on each other more than ever. The result is a tremendously entertaining adventure resulting in a startlingly moving climax and ending.
It is rare to find a film which handles humour (on every different level of maturity) and emotion with such skill, and pretty much impossible to find another trilogy which has had such a profound impact on a generation. It's an impact that will resonate for many decades to come as today's children raise their own children on the invaluable messages contained deep within the Toy Story films. At no point do you question the fact that the main characters are a bunch of inanimate toys. The creativity of that idea is lost on the children who really used to imagine their toys came alive when they weren't watching. To these children, these films are magical. The Toy Story films were conceived with a childlike fertile imagination, giving them a near-unique appeal to the shared desire in every person; to return to their childhood.
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