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Toy Story 3

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Studio Briefing has rounded up some of the major mainstream reviews:

Kids are going to love Toy Story 3. That's the conclusion of nearly all the major critics even if some of them were not so thrilled with it. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times spends little time analyzing the artistic merits of the movie, devoting most of his review to a summary of the plot. Nevertheless, he concludes, "This is a jolly, slapstick comedy, lacking the almost eerie humanity that infused the earlier Toy Story sagas, and happier with action and jokes than with characters and emotions. But hey, what can you expect from a movie named Toy Story 3?" Lou Lumenick in the New York Post remarks that until the last half hour of the film, "this felt like a three-star movie to me," but that the final act left him in tears. After describing earlier Pixar movies as masterpieces, he says, "I'm not complaining too loudly that Toy Story 3 ... is merely very good." Similarly Lisa Kennedy writes in the Denver Post: "Pixar ... has gone for the pleasantly familiar over its customary astonishing." Steven Rea in the Philadelphia Inquirer complains that the latest edition's 3D enhancement comes across as "a gimmick." He concludes: "Toy Story 3 is solid, smile-inducing stuff. But by the inherent nature of a sequel, and our familiarity with the main characters, the glow of originality has dissipated. There's something generic about this Pixar property, and that third-act recycling plant looks an awful lot like a metaphor, with or without 3-D glasses." And Liam Lacey in the Toronto Globe and Mail sums up: "Measured against such superb Pixar films as Ratatouille, Wall-E and Up, the new Toy Story has to be seen as a letdown." On the other hand, Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle argues that the movie may be the best film Pixar has ever turned out. "It succeeds completely in conventional terms. For 103 minutes, it never takes audience interest for granted. It has action, horror and vivid characters, and it always keeps moving forward. It's also less obvious in its ambition. Wall-E and Up were like experiments in profundity. In Toy Story 3 everything meaningful is just part of the flow. You'll feel it before you see it coming." Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times observes that given Pixar's previous track record, "it's not exactly a surprise to say that Toy Story 3 is everything you hoped it would be." And A.O. Scott in the New York Times finds the movie as endearing as a favorite stashed-away old toy and an artistic tour de force as well. "Toy Story 3 is as sweet, as touching, as humane a movie as you are likely to see this summer, and yet it is all about doodads stamped and molded out of plastic and polyester," he writes. "Therein lies its genius, and its uncanny authenticity. A tale that captured the romance and pathos of the consumer economy, the sorrows and pleasures that dwell at the heart of our materialist way of life, could only be told from the standpoint of the commodities themselves, those accretions of synthetic substance and alienated labor we somehow endow with souls."


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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It's unbearably hot here in Charlotte, but thankfully, I just spent the last couple hours sitting in a cool, dark movie theater watching Toy Story 3 with my wife and sister.

We laughed--guffawed, even-- and cried. It was a wonderful final chapter to a tremendous trilogy.

I haven't left the theater this giddy in a long time. Can't wait to see it again!

Also: the opening short, Day & Night, is one of the most creative and bizarre shorts to come from PIXAR.

Edited by Gavin Breeden

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Day and Night is absolutely brilliant. I'm confident that Knight and Day will fall far short by comparison.

I'm hard pressed to think of plausible contenders. Actually, I can only think of one: The Bourne trilogy. I'm not saying it is stronger, but it's a plausible contender. I do think that the Bourne trilogy is uniformly solid -- and Bourne 3 has surprises in a way that TS3 doesn't necessarily. I know some consider Bourne 3 a step down, but I don't.

Hmm. Maybe I need to see it a third time. The first time felt like a whole lotta familiar and predictable. The ending felt like they went the least interesting route, revealing only stuff I'd assumed from previous films. I was actually bored by Supremacy the first time, and far more the second time. But at least it was consistent with in tone, style, and character.

I think SUPREMACY is the best out of the bunch, but I'm with you on ULTIMATUM, which was a rather lazy retread that failed to bring us anywhere exciting. Not that I thought it was outright bad, mind you, but I certainly thought it the weakest of the group.

Anyway, I'd say Leone's "Man With No Name" trilogy of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, and THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY is as strong as any trilogy out there.

My bad. I meant Ultimatum, but said Supremacy. Supremacy is actually my favorite of the three.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Well, it happened: One critic has sullied the film's perfect rating at RT.com ... aaand it's just who you think it is.

Gavin, I was married in Charlotte and I know Lawrence Toppman of the Charlotte Observer. I see he gave TS3 three stars just like I did ... although my review (which also carries an A-minus) is more enthusiastic than his.)


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Well, it happened: One critic has sullied the film's perfect rating at RT.com ... aaand it's just who you think it is.

And now there are two. I guess if you need a claim to (in)fame . . .


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Well, it happened: One critic has sullied the film's perfect rating at RT.com ... aaand it's just who you think it is.

Armond's bad review was inevitable. You don't really get the man though until you read his glowing review of Jonah Hex, a movie was dumped into theaters this weekend by the studio and left to die.

Edited by bowen

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Just got back from seeing the film with my daughter. She kept her 3D glasses on the whole time this time! Must be because they come in kiddie size now.

Much to my surprise, I thought the prison-escape sequence was one of the weaker parts of the film, which means that Pixar has once again made a film that was very endearing at first but then got lost in the chase/escape/whatever action-movie mechanisms of the third act. So on that level, I can appreciate why Ebert said this film lacks the "humanity" of its predecessors.

Matters were not helped by the fact that, in this sequence at least, the movie couldn't even follow its own internal logic, much less any sort of trilogy-spanning logic. E.g., if MR. Potato Head's body parts can move of their own accord and come together without any connection to his body whatsoever, then why can't MRS. Potato Head's body part get out of that little nook in Andy's room? (And, if you'll excuse a brief spoiler-free tangent on an entirely different scene, how can it be possible to shut MRS. Potato Head up simply by yanking her mouth off? We see MR. Potato Head's mouth talking after it has been separated from his body In This Very Same Movie.)

But everything that came BEFORE the prison-escape sequence, and the coda at the end, were pretty much perfect. Lots of laughs, a few tears, etc. And that Baby Doll is a FANTASTIC character. (Though I'm not too sure about the way the film goes all Return of the Jedi with her.)

I will say that I don't get why some critics are calling the film's conclusion "schmaltzy" or "over-the-top sappy". I think it was pitched at pretty much the level that it HAD to be pitched. (I say this as one who recently prevented his wife from throwing out our children's plush Klingon Bird of Prey. Yeah, yeah, the kids have pulled some of the stuffing out of it, but darn it, that toy brings back far too many good memories for me. And I also say this as one who will never, EVER get rid of the rabbit doll that his grandmother once fixed for him, when he was a pre-schooler; I slept with that thing until I was well into my teens, possibly even later.)

I also don't get the charge of "homophobia" that some critics have made. The movie never, ever suggests that Ken is a closeted gay, or even that the other toys suspect him of being this; it simply harps on the fact that Ken has a somewhat, shall we say, girlish fashion sense. And since Ken dolls ARE girl toys (no matter what Ken himself might say), it only makes sense to portray him that way.

More later, perhaps.

Oh, wait, one last note: I'm not sure quite what to make of what this film does with the three-eyed aliens. Should these beings, who worship and revere "the claw" so much, really be depicted as CONTROLLING "the claw"? I'm sure the filmmakers don't care about the theological implications of all this, but darn it, I do. And to the extent that the filmmakers DON'T care about it, it suggests a flaw (a tiny one, perhaps, but still a flaw) in their world-building.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Armond's bad review was inevitable. You don't really get the man though until you read his glowing review of Jonah Hex, a movie was dumped into theaters this weekend by the studio and left to die.

... and then you do?


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Armond's bad review was inevitable. You don't really get the man though until you read his glowing review of Jonah Hex, a movie was dumped into theaters this weekend by the studio and left to die.

... and then you do?

I think so, yes. He's just a troll, whose aim is to generate controversy. If you just read his trashing of good movies, you might think he just has very high standards, but once you read all his laudatory reviews of terrible movies, you realize that he just wants to stir things up. Roger Ebert wrote about this (after being sucked into a defense of White) and then recanted:

http://blogs.suntime...mond_white.html

"I am forced to conclude that White is, as charged, a troll. A smart and knowing one, but a troll."

I particularly agree that White is smart and knowing. He writes well and could write good criticism if he wanted to (and I think intermittently does). He just prefers playing the provocateur.

Edited by bowen

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Devin Faraci suggests TOY STORY 3 feels "like a very Christian movie":

I feel like Toy Story 3 sort of drops the ball on the main characters - nobody really has any room to grow anymore - but Lotso is probably one of the best, most intriguing and most nuanced characters in the Pixar canon. Lotso’s story is one of a loss of faith, and while I don’t agree with the film’s thematic assertions - by no longer believing in God, or in the case of the toys, the children, Lotso becomes broken and bad - it’s a compelling and moving arc. That’s saying something for a stuffed bear who smells of strawberries.

I do wish that the rest of the characters had stories as compelling as Lotso’s. Unfortunately most of our characters have had their completed arcs and so while they get plenty of business in Toy Story 3 they don’t get deeper moments. There are nice character beats, especially in a subtle theological disagreement between Buzz and Woody (Buzz and the gang think Andy has turned on them, while Woody knows that the Lord remains benevolent), but it doesn’t get enough play. In fact the movie really underplays the potential contrast between Buzz and the gang’s journey towards loss of faith with Lotso’s complete lack of it.

Part of the reason is that Toy Story 3 is, in a lot of ways, mostly an action film. The last act is a long, thrilling and edge of your seat escape, and it has scenes of danger so intense and believable that even I - a grown up who knows that there’s no way Disney lets Woody get killed - felt seriously, deeply concerned about the safety of the characters. I was honestly frightened for our heroes in some scenes (which I guess means that younger viewers could be scared shitless). Unkrich and the team at Pixar have put together a series of escapes that will overshadow every other action picture released this summer, and probably next as well.

There are a lot of interesting deeper thematic things going on in Toy Story 3 - it feels like a very Christian movie, with the concept of being in servitude to God as the guiding principle in any life, and it even tackles politics (general, not specific) in intriguing ways - but none of these things make the film feel necessary. It’s very good, and it’s an enjoyable time at the theater being entertained by the modern wizards of storytelling. But there’s a downside to being Pixar, and that is that we expect a lot out of you. Toy Story 3 would be an unthinkable stroke of genius from Dreamworks, especially the way it seamlessly and subtly works in adult references and situations into the second act prison scenes, but from the people who brought us
Up
it feels a bit like treading water. Toy Story 2 remains the best of the series, and 3 has to step behind the first film to hold up the rear. That rear is still miles ahead of the output of any other animation house in the world, but when graded on the Pixar curve Toy Story 3 feels, even for all its scariness and darkness, kind of weightless.

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Devin Faraci wrote:

: I feel like Toy Story 3 sort of drops the ball on the main characters - nobody really has any room to grow anymore . . .

Indeed, and in the case of Buzz, in particular, they literally push the "re-set" button.

: . . . but Lotso is probably one of the best, most intriguing and most nuanced characters in the Pixar canon. Lotso’s story is one of a loss of faith, and while I don’t agree with the film’s thematic assertions - by no longer believing in God, or in the case of the toys, the children, Lotso becomes broken and bad - it’s a compelling and moving arc.

Huh. I didn't get the feeling the film gave Lotso enough room to HAVE a proper "arc". The flashback sequence felt kind of perfunctory, and the fact that it was basically a merging of Jessie's and Stinky Pete's back-stories from the previous film didn't help.

: There are nice character beats, especially in a subtle theological disagreement between Buzz and Woody (Buzz and the gang think Andy has turned on them, while Woody knows that the Lord remains benevolent), but it doesn’t get enough play. In fact the movie really underplays the potential contrast between Buzz and the gang’s journey towards loss of faith with Lotso’s complete lack of it.

I could go with this. But I must say, if it's "theology" the toys are talking about here, then the disagreement comes down to Buzz saying "God has abandoned us" and Woody saying "God had an accident". I'm not sure which option is worse! :)

And hey, does no one want to follow up my comment about the theological puzzle of the three-eyed aliens!?

: But there’s a downside to being Pixar, and that is that we expect a lot out of you. Toy Story 3 would be an unthinkable stroke of genius from Dreamworks, especially the way it seamlessly and subtly works in adult references and situations into the second act prison scenes, but from the people who brought us Up it feels a bit like treading water.

Yeah.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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FWIW, the Hollywood Reporter says this film is on track to open as high as $120 million this weekend.

The current record for an animated film is the $121.6 million grossed by Shrek the Third in 2007 (without, one might note, the benefit of 3D ticket premiums). (Although it bears mentioning that Shrek 2 was released on a Wednesday or something and had grossed $129 million by the end of its first weekend.)

Pixar's personal best, until now, has been the $70.5 million earned by The Incredibles back in 2004 (although it bears mentioning that Toy Story 2 went into wide release on a Wednesday and had grossed $80.5 million by the end of its first weekend in wide release, way back in 1999).


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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(I happened to finish a blog post today on the link between 1988's Tin Toy and Toy Story 3, so this, too, was a subject that was on my mind today.)

Just remembered: One of several things that made me laugh out loud during this film was a brief glimpse of the Tin Toy characters hiding under one of the bookcases (or shelves, or whatever) in the daycare, just before the toddlers come running into the room.

I was also intrigued to see that Andy still has an "ABC Round-Up" poster on his bedroom wall. This dates to the original Toy Story, which was made BEFORE they invented the back-story for Woody that included the 1950s TV show Woody's Round-Up etc., and I think it's mildly intriguing that they haven't ret-conned this.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Was anyone else surprised by

the subtitles when Buzz goes into Spanish mode? The girl in the row behind me couldn't read, and judging by how many kids were in the audience, I'd bet a lot of them couldn't, either.


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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Yay! I liked it a lot! I agree that it's not as good as 1&2, but that leaves a LOT of room in the "excellent" column. It is still better than most movies. Exciting, touching, funny. Slow in the middle, but my four-year-old (almost) and eight-year-old both loved it.

Not many kids' movies have "stoically meeting death unafraid" as a running theme, but this one does, and does it well.

I wept as the toys all held hands and looked death in the face - together. I had no idea how they would be extricated from that predicament, but the solution was awesome.

And leave it to Woody to figure out a third option, besides "Attic" and "College" - an even better option.

But I loved, loved, loved all the Ken jokes.


In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."

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CrimsonLine wrote:

: But I loved, loved, loved all the Ken jokes.

Oh, absolutely.

Re: subtitles, didn't George Lucas claim (whether sincerely or not, I do not know) that he put subtitles in the original Star Wars to encourage kids to learn how to read?

Two more quibbles I have with this film:

One, not only is Lotso's back-story somewhat perfunctory, but I think it may be TOO perfunctory given how murderous he turns out to be. I'd say it's even more perfunctory and less convincing than the back-story given to the similarly murderous Christopher Plummer character in Up. (Was anybody in either of the previous Toy Story movies this evil? I don't think so.)

Two, I'm not sure what to make of the opening sequence. If this were a Spy Kids movie, it would absolutely fit in. But "realizing" Andy's play-world like this doesn't quite fit with what the other films do; it's kind of like the difference between the book version of Bridge To Terabithia (which emphasizes the empty cans and sleeping bags etc. and encourages us to IMAGINE what these things represent to the children, just as the children themselves are IMAGINING what they represent) and the film version of Bridge to Terabithia (which literalizes everything with computer-generated effects). Yeah, yeah, I know -- Toy Story 2 began with a "realized" version of a video game. But the difference there was that we experienced the video game from one perspective only, namely that of the player (who turns out to be the Dinosaur); in Toy Story 3, on the other hand, we have MULTIPLE points of view even though the entire sequence really exists only in Andy's head -- Andy's head, not the toys' heads. (Of course, this film ends up giving Andy a "point of view" that he NEVER had in the previous two films, but I'm not sure that that's what the prologue is trying to establish here.)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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(Of course, this film ends up giving Andy a "point of view" that he NEVER had in the previous two films, but I'm not sure that that's what the prologue is trying to establish here.)

That's the impression I had. Andy is a much bigger part of 3 than any of the others, so starting the movie in his head to establish his "presence" made sense to me.


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
Twitter Blog

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tyler1984 wrote:

: That's the impression I had. Andy is a much bigger part of 3 than any of the others, so starting the movie in his head to establish his "presence" made sense to me.

Except the prologue never really plays up that idea. We get a lot of the toy interactions -- and because we have come to the movie to see the toys, and not to see Andy, we will assume that we are watching the toys here, even if they are "in character" for the purpose of play -- but not a whole lot that is explicitly made out to be from Andy's POV. And then, the moment we find out that we're still in Andy's room, the movie retreats to home-video footage IIRC -- which suggests that the POV here is not Andy's but his mother's (or maybe even someone else's).


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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tyler1984 wrote:

: That's the impression I had. Andy is a much bigger part of 3 than any of the others, so starting the movie in his head to establish his "presence" made sense to me.

Except the prologue never really plays up that idea. We get a lot of the toy interactions -- and because we have come to the movie to see the toys, and not to see Andy, we will assume that we are watching the toys here, even if they are "in character" for the purpose of play -- but not a whole lot that is explicitly made out to be from Andy's POV. And then, the moment we find out that we're still in Andy's room, the movie retreats to home-video footage IIRC -- which suggests that the POV here is not Andy's but his mother's (or maybe even someone else's).

When it switches to the home video, it shows Andy's mom taping him playing with the toys, and the scene he's acting out with them is the same as the imagination scenes we've just been watching. The way I saw it, we were watching the two sides of Andy playing, in his head and in his room.


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
Twitter Blog

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tyler1984 wrote:

: The way I saw it, we were watching the two sides of Andy playing, in his head and in his room.

Right, of course, but part of the issue here is that we see the "head" from the POV of the toys, who really shouldn't HAVE an active POV in this scene, and we see the "room" from the POV of his mother, who is not a particularly central character.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Why would the toys NOT have an active point of view? It seems to me that in the world of make-believe, the toys take on the POV of their owner. No?


In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."

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Quibbles, quibbles. What an interesting double feature today--"Toy Story 3" with the kids, and then "Secrets and Lies" with my wife.

Got misty-eyed at both.

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My daughter said she noticed some Monster's Inc music in the soundtrack, especially around Lotso in the junkyard. Wondering if anyone else caught that nod?

Also, I'm surprised at the love shown here. It is clearly weaker than the first two films and isn't up to the same level of profound storytelling that Up, Wall-E, Ratatouille, and Finding Nemo were. And I was surprised at how similar the plot was to the first two. It didn't seem to have the originality of storyline that we are used to with Pixar. Also, the ending seemed overly sentimental to me, but I've been sensitive to sentimentalism in art lately.

Also, any takes on the opening cartoon Night and Day?

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CrimsonLine wrote:

: Why would the toys NOT have an active point of view?

Because they are not the ones "acting" in this world. They are mere receptacles for Andy-at-play. When Andy plays with them, they are passive, not active.

: It seems to me that in the world of make-believe, the toys take on the POV of their owner. No?

I'd say no. I'd say the toys SUSPEND their POV when their owner (or anyone at all, really) plays with them.

Lance McLain wrote:

: My daughter said she noticed some Monster's Inc music in the soundtrack, especially around Lotso in the junkyard. Wondering if anyone else caught that nod?

Alas, no. Is it necessarily the same theme, though? Or is it just Randy Newman music sounding like Randy Newman music?

: And I was surprised at how similar the plot was to the first two. It didn't seem to have the originality of storyline that we are used to with Pixar.

[ nod ]

Though some of the new CHARACTERS are certainly very enjoyable. PLOT isn't everything, necessarily -- and indeed, as I already noted, the weakest part of the film to me was perhaps its most plot-intensive (i.e. the prison escape; actually, I first began tuning out of the movie during the flashback to Lotso's origin story, which felt So Much like a nothing-new-here fusion/retread of the Jessie and Stinky Pete origin stories from Toy Story 2; and then there was all that exposition from the telephone, etc., etc.).

: Also, the ending seemed overly sentimental to me, but I've been sensitive to sentimentalism in art lately.

It didn't seem that bad to me. And I say this as one who can be moved to weep by some pretty mediocre movies; all it takes is a certain scenario, or a certain relatability, and, well, there you go. So, yes, Toy Story 3 made me cry a little, but no more than any other movie I've seen in the past year, and I certainly didn't get the feeling that the film was pushing my buttons very hard or anything like that. (FWIW, the last really SERIOUS crying I did at a movie was during the last half-hour or so of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button -- and this, despite the fact that the first two hours of that movie seriously bored me. Something about that final half-hour really got to me.)

: Also, any takes on the opening cartoon Night and Day?

Day & Night, actually. And yes, it's easily the best thing about Toy Story 3 (the complete theatregoing experience, that is), and it's proof positive that 3D is no mere gimmick.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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