As a teddy bear driven crackers by rejection drags our firm-jawed hero to the dumper flap of doom, director Lee Unkrich confesses he was “totally inspired by Sam Raimi’s great movie The Evil Dead”.
Now, that’s not a reference dropped on most ‘squeakquels’. The finale to Pixar’s founding franchise isn’t like most kids’ flicks, it’s a nuanced tale of heart-melting separation, change, ageing, loss... with crack gags about Ken’s closet.
As the tail-end to a timeless trilogy, it begs the question: could Toy Story 3 pull a Return Of The King and scoop Best Picture for all three on Oscar night?
Animated Film victory would be predictable; Best Pic would make history and offer just reward for a trilogy that isn’t just great ankle-biters’ animation but classic all-ages storytelling, lassoed to a perfect pay-off.
The opening turns the trilogy full circle, swerving back to Andy’s first games in 1995 with a western/sci-fi gallop that soon turns poignant.
Dialogue highlights the looming end-point: “I always wanted to go out with a bang.” Andy’s off to college. The toys aren’t...
As obsolescence looms, resonances mount. Smart writing touches on the teenage trauma of leaving childish things behind and parents’ pain at seeing kids outgrow parental company.
The scene in which Andy’s mum enters her son’s empty bedroom merits a revised PG certificate... for parents.
TS3 also addresses old-age fears of seeing your posse reduced in number or shipped off to places with names like ‘Sunnyside’.
“Gather everyone up!”, ushers Woody. But we are already gathered up. Ouch. More than ever, we are as much the toys as the audience.
The magic doesn’t just reside in implied meanings, but in Pixar’s brisk assembly of multi-faceted layers.
TS3 brooks no stodge, but is packed with zingers and thrills. For fly-by-fast puns, check Ken and Barbie’s meet-cute exchange. For sweaty-palmed peril, try a dialogue-free near-death experience over hell’s furnace.
There’s catnip for cinephiles, too. An excellent commentary sees Unkrich referencing Raimi, Kubrick, Studio Ghibli and more. Scenes embrace prison-movies, action-flicks and shades of horror.
The detail is devilish: sunlight reflected onto faces, Andy’s layered bedroom clutter, meticulously animated monkey fur. When Unkrich talks about “keeping it real,” he isn’t blowing hot air. Then there is the material left behind in concept meetings.
The close is as much a fresh start as an ending, but it’s hard to imagine a better climax.
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