Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Toy Story 3

I don't know what Freud would make of the fact that two out of the three films reviewed on these pages are aimed at 6-year-olds. Freud can go and fuck himself anyway.

Before we begin I have to report an assault. This being the school holidays and Bargain Tuesday, the cinema was unusually busy. Happily we had got to our seats early enough, but within a few minutes the rush began. A small boy attempted to squeeze past me to get to the seats further up our row. Wouldn't you think I'd just bloody well stand up and let him through? My failure to do so caused him to lose balance, and so in an attempt to steady himself before his head hit the seat in front of him he pushed out a hand straight into my groin.

Still, at least HE didn't fall over.

And so to the film, the third in the series but the first for 11 years. Interestingly, the screenplay writers have chosen to acknowledge this passing of time and so we arrive (via a western-style, roof-of-a-train duel between Woody and Mr Potato Head) a few days prior to Andy's departure for college. John Morris, who was 10 at the time of the original Toy Story, again provides the voice of Andy, who must decide what to do with his old toy collection before he leaves. He can take them with him (a curious option since I can't imagine anyone turning up for their first day at University with a box full of plastic cowboys, space rangers and evil Dr Pork Chop piggy banks), he can leave them in the attic at his mum's house, or he can throw them in the bin. Or the trash.

This taxing dilemma takes the film into prison break-out territory, and our heroes end up in what seems like an idyllic day care centre. However things are not quite what they seem there. At this point we meet the show-stealing Lotso, voiced by Ned Beatty. He's a cuddly bear who's had his mind twisted by a bad experience with a previous owner. An Anakin Skywalker for the Pixar Generation. Lotso rules the roost and is not a bear you can trust, not like that nice Fozzy I grew up with. When Woody and the gang find this out they must launch a desperate bid to escape to the relative safety of Andy's mum's attic.

Comedy highlights include Ken and Barbie's on-off relationship, and the running joke of Mrs Potato Head's eye seeing independently of her head. For reasons too complex to go into here (no, really) Buzz develops a 'Spanish mode' which although arguably xenophobic and milked just a little too much, is undeniably amusing. Laugh out loud moments are not that plentiful (indeed some of the best come in the added material accompanying the closing credits so stay in your seat), but there are more than enough chuckles along the way to keep the adults interested and to entertain the kids.

Toy Story 3 has more emotional depth than can reasonably be expected of a children's animation. The notion of one's childhood finally passing by forever will resonate with many of the adults who see this film. Those who really allow themselves to buy into the surprisingly moving storyline might want to equip themselves with some hankies, especially those young adults who were small children at the time of the original's release in 1995.

You just hope that the people behind the series will be able to resist the temptation of a pointless pot-of-gold fourth installment somewhere down the track. It's a fine end to the saga, and should be left well enough alone now.

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