And To Think, Mattel thought Toy Story Would Be a Flop

10 Things You Need to Know Before Seeing Toy Story 3

  1. It's a character driven movie.
    The reason Toy Story 3 exists can be found in a single line of dialogue from Toy Story 2: "Do you really think Andy is going to take you to college, or on his honeymoon? Andy's growing up, and there's nothing you can do about it."

    Even though Toy Story 2 ends on an up-note, we can't shake the feeling that someday, eventually, Andy would grow up. He would tire of his toys eventually. This is the beginning of Toy Story 3, where we catch up to the characters 10 years on, and find out how they confront this situation. All the characters we know and love are here, so we get to jump directly into the plot.

    That being said...
  2. The plot is kinda weak.
    There are two types of movies, the kind that feature great characters, and the kind that feature great adventures. Typically, the kind featuring characters get sequels that transpose them into awkward new scenarios in an attempt to liven them up. This is what Toy Story 3 is.

    There's a lot of recycled elements here regarding the Pathetic Fallacy. So much so, I couldn't help but feel Pixar was ripping off The Brave Little Toaster, simply replacing appliances with child's playthings. I would list examples, but I'm trying to be spoiler free. There are lots.
  3. ...But the last ten minutes redeem it all.
    I'm critical of Toy Story 3, but that's only because Pixar has set themselves upon a plateau practically unreachable by anything short of monumental filmmaking. As such, the dark comedy premise of Daycare being equated with Prison fails to reach the apex, despite its grand comical execution.

    But this is hardly Pixar's fault. As mentioned, the movie exists to finally and precisely answer how Andy says goodbye to his beloved toys. But, this plot offers twenty minutes maximum of potential story. As such, the movie needs to be padded out. And that's what Sunnyside Daycare delivers, enough drama and comedy to make the final goodbye even more worthwhile.

    The final ten minutes, where Andy ties up the loose threads and makes good to Woody, Buzz and the rest is exactly what Pixar promised, what we the audience expected, and what the characters and franchise deserved. I don't want to give away too much, but this tearjerker of an ending will satisfy all. It was the perfect ending to the franchise.
  4. The marketing is Really Overselling the new characters.
    Look at the poster. How many characters are jam packed in there? Could they possibly fit more in, maybe a few plastic army men in the crevices? That's not even the worst part. The worst part is marketing has lead us to believe each of these characters is equal in importance to the story. The truth is, with the exception of Lotso-Huggin-Bear and Ken, these characters are barely characters at all. They're just there to fill the role of "Other toys." They have no personality, and could easily be replaced with no impact.

    Even more ridiculous, Pixar made the common animation mistake of hiring big-name celebrities to voice these characters. How many dollars could John Lasseter have saved if he didn't hire James Bond to voice Mr. Pricklepants? Did Whoopi Goldberg really need to voice Stretch the Octopus? She had three lines, and was never mentioned by name.

    Thankfully, a lot of these minor characters are voiced by professional voice actors, or Pixar staff. But still, half of the characters on this poster are glorified extras, and the marketing staff is hoping franchise opportunities don't care either way.
  5. Pixar tries two-tier storytelling, and succeeds.
    In Toy Story, Woody wass the main character with Buzz as the secondary. In Toy Story 2, it was the opposite. Buzz had all the major scenes while Woody had several existential crises. In both films, one character stood in the foreground while the other stayed on the sidelines, supporting them. One had the action, while one drove the plot.

    In every Pixar movie up until this point, plots have been straight and narrow. This isn't a bad thing, but the Toy Story franchise very clearly has two, equal protagonists. There should be opportunities for both Woody and Buzz to share the limelight. Well, Toy Story 3 tries this and succeeds. There are moments where Buzz and Woody separate, each taking a portion of the plot, each meeting their respective conflicts and fulfilling them to their own abilities. When the two diverging paths reconnect, the movie as a whole benefits. It's an advanced narrative technique, and for a first attempt, it's executed masterfully.
  6. Andy finally gets some development.
    In Toy Story and Toy Story 2, Andy is little more than a plot device. A MacGuffin. The characters are toys, and Andy is the child who plays with the toys. We know little about the child, other than he has an equal appreciation for cowboys and astronauts, and is not above integrating his sister's Barbie dolls into his playtime routines.

    While we don't get a full biography of Andy in Toy Story 3, he at least evolves past his previous niche as a prop. We see how much Andy cares about his toys, viewing them as more than possessions or playthings. He has actual emotion invested in them. He realizes he has no use for a Mr. Potato Head or piggy bank at college, but he can't bring himself to detach them from his life.

    Andy's toys are an extension of his soul. His existence is equally defined by them as they are by Andy. We don't learn a lot about Andy (after all, it's not his movie), but we do learn everything we need during the film (especially the finale). Also, college-aged Andy is voiced by the same actor who voiced Young Andy in the first two Toy Stories. A great detail further driving home the point.
  7. Sid returns. Sorta.
    I was really hoping Sid appeared in Toy Story 3 as an adult. Preferably as a psychologically scarred individual who goes into a mental frenzy after seeing Woody crossing the street.

    It doesn't happen this way, but Sid does indeed return (I know it was him, he's listed in the credits.) It's not an obvious cameo, so you really have to look for him. But he's there, and he winds up pretty much exactly where you'd expect a kid like Sid to end up.
  8. It's not getting the Oscar.
    Toy Story 3 was great, I thoroughly endorse it, and it is a great finale to the franchise. But it's not getting the Academy Award.

    As much as it pains me to say it, Dreamworks really upped their game this year, and How to Train Your Dragon is the better film.

    Edit: Hah ha! Boy, was I wrong about this one!
  9. Don't bother with the 3D.
    Toy Story 3 went down the same path as Clash of the Titans. The 3D was shoehorned in, and the film suffers. Not one critic recommends spending the extra two dollars on the 3D version, and I agree with them.

    It's just not a 3D film. Things don't pop out at the audience. Up had moments where the 3D gimmick was a benefit, but the majority of Toy Story 3's action was designed for, and executed well in glorious 2D.

    Besides, those glasses never work properly with people who wear prescription lenses.
  10. Toddlers really are frightening, terrifying creatures.
    Way to endear yourself to your target demographic, Pixar. Although I do agree with you. Toddlers are quite literally the human equivalent of maggots. They're young, wriggly, disgusting, and they secrete ooze.

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