In an interview, John Lasseter Pixar Head Honcho, acknowledged that Woody, Buzz and all the Toy Story characters are no longer just Pixar’s creations, they now belong to the whole world. They needed to take real care in how they brought this story to a satisfactory conclusion and nothing less would do.
Rest assured, Pixar have not dropped the ball, in fact they have picked it up and run even further into cinematic history.
Dealing with perhaps the most adult of themes, the passage from childhood to young adulthood, this beautifully constructed screenplay again provides something for everyone. Eye popping chase scenes, danger, humour and moments of true pathos, all wrapped up with a shiny new 3D bow, if you choose to see it this way and you should if you can.
Tom Hanks and Tim Allen reprise their roles as Woody and Buzz and continue to own the roles in every way. All the much loved characters are present and correct, T-Rex, Mr & Mrs Potato Head, Hamm, Jessie and yes, the blue and green aliens.
With Andy now seventeen and leaving for college it is time to leave those childlike things behind. Moving some toys to the attic, all does not go as planned and Woody and his loyal band are thrown into increasingly perilous situations in an attempt to find their way home.
Of course the crux of the story is, do they have a home to go to, does Andy want them or even need them anymore and what’s left for a toy, if it is not loved and played with?
We later get to meet Lotso (Ned Beattie), a purple coloured, strawberry scented bear with attitude, who may or may not be who he appears to be. Barbie who has tagged along from Toy Story 2, also gets to meet her ideal mate, Ken of course. Ken (Michael Keaton) is played as the ultimate metro sexual, perfect house, disco and more outfits than Imelda Marcos. Being a “girls toy” Ken clearly has some issues, which clearly need to be worked through, hence the midnight Monopoly money poker games.
Woody gets separated from the group and meets yet more new characters including a thespian in the grand old tradition, “Mr Pricklepants” (Timothy Dalton).
“Are you classically trained”, he enquires of Woody.
There are too many inspired scenes to choose from, the opening sequence is superb, “Death by Monkeys” will never sound as resonant or appropriate. We also are treated to Buzz in “Spanish mode” following a accidental “hard reset”, flamenco Buzz style, marvellous stuff. Nursery security camera guards, Monkeys of course being the perfect choice with their built in cymbal hands.
A movie four years in the making, which clearly cares deeply about the characters, animated to perfection and voiced by actors who, clearly realising this is as good as it ever gets, relish every moment.
The 3D effect is not used for show, there are no noticeable, quick stick it out of the screen moments, but the extra depth makes it all seem more real. Sometimes it is difficult to remember you are rooting for a character, that at one point is made out of Mr Potato parts attached to a piece of Pita bread.
All the gang are finally reunited for a fantastic extended climax, where the characters are placed in harms way like never before. A scene that is both intense, touching and shows genuine and continued peril, watch out little ones.
The closing scenes are beautifully scripted, animated and played by the voice cast, eliciting genuine heartfelt emotion. There maybe many a member of the audience checking in case they have “something in their eye” as the lights go up.
Lets hope that they leave Buzz, Woody and friends to enjoy their retirement, it would be a shame to get them out to play again, with the narrative arc so wonderfully complete.
An outstanding end to a groundbreaking trilogy.
Pixar continue to push the boundaries of not only what is technically possible but also just how much an audience can really care for digitally created characters.