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Non-Review Review: Toy Story (3D)

I caught a screening of Toy Story 3D in Cineworld last night. It was amazing. Not for the new 3D effects – which were, admittedly graceful and understated rather than garish and intrusive – but just for the joy of seeing two old friends back on the big screen, where they belong. The rerelease of the movie has garnered a lot of discussion about what the best Pixar film is, with many suggesting that this original film may take the crown. While Toy Story isn’t the best of that studio’s filmography, it remains a highlight. To infinity and beyond, indeed!

Toyz in da Hood...

Toyz in da Hood...

I haven’t seen the film in years – almost since it was originally released. I remember having a Woody doll when it first came out, I was that young. And – as with most Pixar films, I’m amazed at how much it entertains the adult me as well as the younger me. There are all manner of subtle jokes that will reach adults, but they are made so discreetly the kids won’t even know what they are missing. But what’s really magical is how Pixar manage to take a narrative that is your typical family fare and just execute it with enough creativity and paniche that you don’t care you’ve seen the same movie dozens of times before. Somethings never change.

If Wall-E was a romance and Up is an adventure-slash-coming-of-age story, Toy Story is a buddy movie. A story about two opposites coming to know and respect each other – the old fashioned mayor of toytown with his stock phrases and stylish hat and the new blow-in with his impressive wingspan and can-do attitude. Except they’re toys. The movie is a wonderful exploration of childhood – ever imagined your toys come alive when you’re not looking? Well clearly the guys at Pixar did too.

Hanks and Allen are both perfectly cast. Hanks Woody starts out as he lovable everyman, the cowboy with the common touch and the man about town. He directs the activities of the toys not because he’s elected, but because he’s respected – and liked. For the first few minutes it seems like Hanks is on familiar territory, and it fits like a glove. What’s great is how much darker Hanks can get as Woody finds himself replace by a new glow-in-the-dark space-age toy. He never really loses his charm, and you never truly dislike him, but Hanks makes you believe that Woody could be as petty and insecure as he appears to be.

Allen is similarly impressive as Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, the toy who doesn’t believe he’s a toy – who thinks he’s landed on a strange alien planet with a weird population. Allen manages to go through pretty much the same arc as he does in Galaxy Quest, from cocky and self-assured to self-doubting and beyond. At times Allen seems to be intentionally calling to mind William Shatner with his delivery, but despite the character’s occasional arrogance and inability to comprehend what is actually going on, he seems like a really decent guy.

The CGI is still solid, even today. Granted, it isn’t as fantastic as some of Pixar’s later stuff and I did notice one or two things – where does Rex’s lower jaw goes when he talks? But those are few and far between. And, being honest, Pixar have always managed to construct stories that would compelling if acted out by a doodle on an etch-a-sketch.

The only reservations I would have are minor. There’s the cost issue – in that we are only getting one of the two at a time and that doesn’t even include the traditional short. But if you haven’t seen the film before, trust me – it’s worth every penny to see in the cinema. Sure, the Toy Story 2 may be slightly stronger, but that’s as a result of doing more things better rather than doing less things worse, if that makes sense. Oh, and we caught the trailer for Toy Story 3. Looks promising (as if it wouldn’t), even if there was little to go on in it.

It’s a great way to see a great movie. If you haven’t seen it in a while, there’s no excuse not to break these toys out of the cupboard.

One Response

  1. I enjoyed seeing Toy Story back on the big screen as well. As you said it is a shame that we have to pay twice as they did not release Toy Story 2 at the same time.

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