In my opinion, Toy Story 3 is the best Pixar film of recent years. Yes, even better than such critically-acclaimed movies as Wall E, Ratatouille, and Up. Here’s why. Toy Story 3, like Toy Stories 1 and 2, manages to appeal to both adults and children. I found this film to be just as exciting, just as moving, and just as laugh-out-loud funny as I did the other two films when I saw them for the first time as a child. Unlike other recent Pixar films, which seem to be catering exclusively to a younger audience, Toy Story 3 is a movie everyone can enjoy. Toy Story 3 accomplishes this in part by recapturing the wry humor that marked earlier Pixar films like the Incredibles, and, of course, Toy Stories 1 and 2, jokes that may go over children’s heads but will surely be appreciated by their parents. The story’s focus on growing up and the loss that entails may also strike a chord with older audiences—I know it did with me. Those who have not watched Toy Stories 1 and 2 may wind up a tad underwhelmed, since much of the emotional resonance in this movie relies on the audience’s emotional attachment to characters introduced in earlier installments, but as an adventure/prison escape movie there is still enough to recommend it even for newcomers to the series.
Toy Story 3 drags a bit towards the beginning, and becomes a little wearisome as the toys argue and bicker needlessly for many minutes about whether or not their owner, Andy, still cares for them. In one frustrating scene most of the toys, apparently filled with the desire to move the plot forward, ignore cowboy doll Woody when he explains that they ended up on the curb in a trash bag only by accident. They insist that Andy was planning to throw them away even though they have no evidence to suggest Woody is lying, and no reason to believe he would. This left me wishing I could reach through the screen and give all those toys a good shake.
Once the film hits its stride though, around the thirty minute mark, it never slows down, and keeps the thrills and laughs (and, for some viewers, stifled sobs) coming fast and hard. There is so much awesomeness in this film—including a clever homage to Cool Hand Luke, and a Spanish-speaking Buzz Lightyear—that it is nearly impossible not to be swept away by it. Definitely the best film of the summer, and one of the best films of the year, it deserves its spot as a Best Picture contender.