I’m a big crybaby

Posted by · 7:25 pm · June 17th, 2010

Pixar’s “Toy Story 3” reduced me to mush, just like it has untold numbers of critics across the nation.  I’m so excited to see that 2010 has already seen two top-notch animated features, and a few of those still to come look intriguing to say the least.  But this one took a formula, injected it with more profound meaning than its two predecessors could have dreamed of, had the balls to keep its edge when push came to shove with the story’s antagonist, and at the end of the day, put a big, bright, beautiful bow on one of the most beloved franchises in — I think we can say this now — cinema history.

The story was cooked up by Lee Unkrich, Andrew Stanton and Pixar Don, John Lasseter, but Michael Arndt was tasked with actual scripting duties.  His work is a lean vision of purpose, four years of hard work shining through.  The voice work is every bit as effective as it ever was, but all the toys in Andy’s toy box seem to be even more distinguished in their own rights this time out.

Of course, this makes it all the more sad that we can’t hear Jim Varney’s Slinky Dog chime in, but Blake Clark gives it a decent go.  On the whole, though, we’re looking at one of the best films of the year, easily.  And a studio that knows how to do the franchise thing well.

The LA Times put together a story pegging Pixar as bound by the same economic realities of the rest of Hollywood, hence the rash of sequels being developed by the studio.  But I think it unfortunately glosses over the point that this is a sequel every bit as compelling as an “original” concept, and frankly, more effective as part of a 15 year journey.  David Poland touched on that in a recent Hot Blog piece, but he’s also using “Shrek Forever After” and “The A-Team” to help make his point, so maybe skip over those bits.

But back to the movie: it soars.  It really does.  It’s about so many ideas and emotions, both adult and juvenile.  In some ways it flips the premise of the first film upside down.  Rather than detailing only a toy’s responsibility to its owner, it explores the responsibility an owner has to his or her toy.  Does it simply collect dust and/or become a novelty item as one grows up, or can it live forever in the service of another?  “You can’t take it with you,” in other words.

It really is beautiful.  But maybe that’s par for the course for a studio that consistently engages with mature material.

NOTE: I’m kinda, sorta retiring from full on “review” reviews.  So this is likely the kind of thing you’re going to get out of me when it comes to film commentary throughout the season.  When you have someone like Guy Lodge turning phrases like a champ and running review circles around you, it kind of paints perspective for you. ;)  I never fancied myself a proper critic in the first place and prefer to be looser with the way I handle that aspect of our coverage, so for the record, it looks like “Invictus” gets the designation of being the last film I ever properly reviewed.

→ 39 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

39 responses so far

  • 1 6-17-2010 at 7:36 pm

    Bryan said...

    I like these kinds of perspectives the best, anyway (like A Serious Man back in the fall). I was a small enough to be a “kid” when the original Toy Story came out and it never attracted me, nor did its sequel. But this sounds really special, and I might actually check it out this weekend.

  • 2 6-17-2010 at 7:45 pm

    Andrew F said...

    I am *so* excited to see this, but I’m also a bit worried that I’ll be reduced to a blubbering mess in the theatre, causing 7 year olds to turn around and make fun of me. But a great review, Kris.

  • 3 6-17-2010 at 8:11 pm

    Mr. F said...

    Obviously its too early, but Best Picture nom? Possibly win given it melts the cold hearts of the Academy?

  • 4 6-17-2010 at 8:28 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I think I’m dreaming.

  • 5 6-17-2010 at 8:30 pm

    Speaking English said...

    By the way: 2D or 3D?

  • 6 6-17-2010 at 8:44 pm

    Tye-Grr said...

    Best Picture nominee. I’m betting now. And Michael Arndt will be in for Original Screenplay.

    And this will be one of the year’s top performers.

  • 7 6-17-2010 at 9:09 pm

    Jim T said...

    1) I’m even more excited now about this movie but it’s going to come later in Greece so everybody: sssssh. Kiding :p (almost)

    2) Um, what? You have the right to be lazy but don’t play humble. (Regard what I said as semi-“I just thought about it and didn’t say it out loud”)

    Guy is great blah blah. You knew it from the beginning. Plus, aren’t you getting a Phd in Cinema (or something more specific)? If that is not enough for you to have confidence in expressing your thoughts on a movie, I don’t know what will. (Unless you want to be a film historian. Anyway, dunno)

    Two questions: Does that mean more work for Guy or will he keep the reviews per month (not that it’s a fixed quantity) in the same number?

    And, won’t you at least give grades? The text (like the one in the current post) is perhaps enough but I’m just asking.

    PS: Excuse my tone (Well, I know that if I had completely regretted it I would have changed the phrasing) but I thought your reasoning was not entirely believable.

  • 8 6-17-2010 at 9:14 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Tye-Grr: Adapted, actually.

    Jim: I appreciate your comments (if I’m reading them correctly). I’m just not really comfortable writing long form, “proper” reviews anymore. Can’t explain it.

    Guy has a lot of freedom in what he writes and that will stay the same. He’s free to review as often as he wishes. No added work or anything.

    Sorry the reasoning wasn’t believable…not really sure how to convey it otherwise, but anyway. The comment about Guy was just a joke/compliment type thing. Not the real “reason.” I guess I should try and be clearer with the text…

  • 9 6-17-2010 at 9:16 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    There, I added a winky emoticon. They work wonders sometimes.

  • 10 6-17-2010 at 9:17 pm

    Ben M. said...

    Obviously it is early, but I think Pixar is in a great position to make it back-to-back BP noms.

    In fact, Toy Story 3 seems like the kinda film the expanded BP category is for, a critically acclaimed blockbuster (and let’s face it, it does not seem like a year in which many blockbusters will generate BP talk) final film in a beloved franchise where many feel the first two films deserved BP noms.

  • 11 6-17-2010 at 9:22 pm

    Nauval Y. said...

    Repeating the question from Speaking English: is it worth seeing in 3D, Kris?

    Ebert loathes the 3D version. My friends say that, while the 3D is not the kind that pop out of the screen, it sharpens the color and images to a great effect.

  • 12 6-17-2010 at 9:24 pm

    The Irishman said...

    Can anyone think of any film series that pulled off the hat-trick like this? I mean, all three Bournes were great, but there’s “great” and there’s “fuckin’ 100% on Rotten Tomatoes” (something else I don’t remember ever seeing before).

  • 13 6-17-2010 at 9:25 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Nauval: I saw it in IMAX 3D. It was fine, I don’t know. I’ll no more when I see in 2D.

  • 14 6-17-2010 at 9:26 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I thought Up was much better in 2D, just for the vibrancy of color. But TS3 is kind of a darker-hued film as it is.

  • 15 6-17-2010 at 9:28 pm

    Jim T said...

    Even if you can’t explain it you offered exactly what I needed. That’s what I meant by “not entirely believable.” That it’s more about what you need and not so much because of Guy which is different (if only slightly) from your first explanation.

    Anyway, you did read my comments correcty. I enjoyed your reviews and at least you’re not totally abandoning them.

    But really, I read Guy because I like his writing – not because I think he is the best in the Internet. The fact that you are on the same site means nothing more than being on different ones. If someone wants to compare, they can compare you to anyone.

  • 16 6-17-2010 at 10:23 pm

    Zac said...


    The Lord of the Rings trilogy would like a word with you. :)

    I have two free tickets to Toy Story 3 and I plan on seeing it in 2D and 3D.

  • 17 6-17-2010 at 10:43 pm

    MovieMan said...

    I liked it less than you, Kris, but it was indeed a quality film. It was probably the least of the three, in my opinion, simply because it struggles in the second act (as the last three Pixar entries have done). It’s on the lower end of their favorable films, but it’s still very solid and a fitting end to a terrific series. It’s just better as a series than as specific films, I think.

  • 18 6-17-2010 at 11:53 pm

    Silencio said...

    Kris…I beseech you. Invictus cannot be your final full review. It just ain’t right. Your loyal readers would love if you ended with a film that enthralled you or brought you some kind of cinematic joy. Make room for one more.

  • 19 6-18-2010 at 12:58 am

    Hans said...

    From the early word I’m hearing, do I daresay frontrunner for Best Picture?

  • 20 6-18-2010 at 2:30 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Kris: I’m flattered. Truly.

    Jim: This makes no difference to the amount of reviewing I’ll be doing. Honestly, I’d like to write reviews more frequently — it’s my favourite thing I do on the site — but I’m limited to what I can see in London ahead of the US release date. I have yet to see “Toy Story 3,” for example. But I’m glad some people out there actually want more of me ;)

  • 21 6-18-2010 at 4:39 am

    j said...

    The only other franchise/series I could find with 3+ movies at 80 avg on RT was LOTR. Even like Three Colors & Man with No Name don’t have this, or James
    Bond which peaked pretty high with its first 3 films.

    And though LOTR edges Toy Story by about 1 point on MC (88/92/94 vs. 88/92/90), Toy Story beats LOTR on RT:
    Toy Story vs. LOTR: % approval 100 vs. 94
    RT overall avg 87.33 vs. 83.67
    RT cream of the crop average 83.67 vs. 81.67

  • 22 6-18-2010 at 4:40 am

    Glenn said...

    Hans, no. The day a second sequel wins Best Picture after the first two weren’t even nominated is probably never going to happen. Least of all to an animated one movie.

    It really is a fantastic movie though, isn’t it? I wouldn’t rank it above 1 and 2, although it does aim for loftier ideas than those. It’s a suitably more “grown up” Toy Story if that makes sense. Dealing with issues of loss on a larger scale than Toy Story 2’s “When She Loved Me” moments. The moment towards the end with (i’m trying to be spoiler free) linked hands is what will have many letting go of the tears. And unlike last year’s “Up” this one actually works for the tears instead of just throwing a bunch of manipulative emotion-stroking ideas together at the start of the movie (which was more discombobulating than heart-tugging for me). It earns any tears it gets out of the viewer by giving audiences a story that everyone can relate to on a core level and not – sorry to bring it up again, but it’s a sore subject – like “Up”, which put a bunch of sad stuff on the screen and expected an audience member to burst into tears. Do people who cry at the start of “Up” just dissolve into a puddle whenever they watch the nightly news?

    The stuff with Barbie and Ken was lovely and new and I loved the pushing of Mr and Mrs Potato Head as equally lead characters.


    Although I think they missed a golden opportunity for the biggest feel good moment of all time at the end in regards to Bo Peep. Just imagine if the little girl that Andy donated his toys to was also the owner of Bo Beep and the movie had closed on Woody seeing her again. I think the world would have spun off of its axis at the amount of tears and smiles that moment would have created.


  • 23 6-18-2010 at 5:19 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    J: I hope you don’t think those numbers actually mean anything.

  • 24 6-18-2010 at 6:21 am

    Estefan said...

    For some reason, I thought the original Star Wars trilogy had all three films at above 80%, but apparently Return of the Jedi comes in at 77%. Pretty surprising.

    Really excited for Toy Story 3. Will I be able to hold back tears? I have absolutely no idea. Though, I’m personally hoping the aliens have a bigger role this time around, as I’ve always liked them the best, for some reason.

  • 25 6-18-2010 at 8:44 am

    Dean Treadway said...

    I still think the first two are pretty profound in their own right. But it’s good to hear your rave of this installment, Kris. Makes me all the more excited to see it. If it makes me cry harder than the “When She Loved Me” segment of TS2, then I will be both pleased and surprised, and messy.

  • 26 6-18-2010 at 9:37 am

    Michael said...

    I am selfish and greedy and honestly want more of all of you on this site hehe (;^P) I don’t care if they are festival details and capsule reviews, or info about movies that never won oscars, or snarky details about box office, or even deepfelt mushy “observations” on films with Oscar potential – keep it coming! I am actually going to Disney World tomorrow and will be watching Toy Story 3 there with my family (I think that is a pretty fitting setting if I do say so myself) and I cannot wait for it. I’ll also be checking out the new Harry Potter park while I am down there which should be a lot of fun as well. Great work all around guys, and great write-up for Toy Story 3 Kris!

  • 27 6-18-2010 at 10:26 am

    gfg said...

    I bet Toy Story 3 is going to have 6 nominations: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Animated Feature, Orignal Score, Original Song and Sound Editing.

  • 28 6-18-2010 at 11:08 am

    Herman said...

    Screenplay is adapted. This is a sequel.

  • 29 6-18-2010 at 12:19 pm

    Estefan said...

    Herman: I think they only count it as adapted if it’s based on a book (Godfather Part II, Return of the King) or there is a ” based on characters by” credit (Before Sunset, Borat). Toy Story 3 has neither of these. So, it will likely be considered original.

  • 30 6-18-2010 at 12:56 pm

    Kevin K. said...

    Simply put, Pixar has added yet another classic masterwork into their catalogue. Outrageously funny, and heartbreakingly profound, Toy Story 3 builds upon the themes and successes of the first two films and not only matches their wit, charm, and emotion, but, believe it or not, surpasses them. By the time the credits roll, you’ll find yourself reduced to tears, just as I was, as well as everyone else in the theatre. In a weak summer and even weaker year so far for cinema, Toy Story 3, and Pixar as a whole, reminds us of why we love movies in the first place. It’s not only a tremendous film in its own right, it’s an emotionally satisfying and thrilling conclusion to what can be safely called one of the greatest franchises in cinema history. Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang will be missed. So long partners.

    As far as oscars go, here’s what I predict

    Best Picture
    Best Animated Feature Film
    Best Adapted Screenplay
    Best Original Score
    Best Sound Editing
    Best Sound Mixing
    Best Original Song

    It’s main competition for a lot of those awards will be How to Train Your Dragon. But it’s so exciting to see two phenomenal animated films in one year, both of which are completely worthy of any and all accolades thrown at them.

  • 31 6-18-2010 at 1:11 pm

    Ronn Burner said...

    Kris: Just like you can’t explain why you prefer this type of “review” I can’t quite explain why I prefer to read them in this manner.

    I think it has to do with simply expressing how the film made you feel more from the heart than shrouded in big words and critiquing it’s structure, plot points, etc as if you’re grading a paper.

    I actually loathe reviews where the writer is trying to impress you with his vocabulary.

    Ps… much easier to read when game 7 isn’t on. Ha! Keep up the great work Guys. In Contention is truly one of the few must read websites for true film lovers in my opinion.

  • 32 6-18-2010 at 4:56 pm

    m1 said...

    “I’m a big crybaby.”

    Nice. You finally admitted it!
    Just kidding.

  • 33 6-18-2010 at 4:57 pm

    m1 said...

    @27: What is the ‘original song’ called and/or how does it go?

  • 34 6-18-2010 at 4:58 pm

    Red said...

    I agree with Silencio that a movie like Invictus shouldn’t get your last full review, Kris. :)

    I thought that this movie was going to disappoint, but it looks like I might be proven wrong. Can’t wait to see it.

    Saw that two rotten reviews just went up on RT. I don’t rely on RT all that much, but you can’t help but root for a film like this to achieve 100%. What really sucks is that one of the rotten reviews was because the critic thought the movie was full of product placement. Any thoughts, Kris?

  • 35 6-18-2010 at 6:10 pm

    Glenn said...

    Estefan, sequels that inolve the same characters as its predecessor are instantly classified as adapted by the Academy.

  • 36 6-18-2010 at 9:30 pm

    j said...

    Eh none of this REALLY means anything. So Mil Dollar Baby and Crash won BP; I still think they suck. So Shrek & Pirates have earned billions; I still think they suck. So critics worship Sideways & Finding Nemo; I still think they suck.

    But it’s still fun to think about awards, reviews, and box office even if they are meaningless.

  • 37 6-18-2010 at 9:34 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Red: That critic was Armond White. And he gets off on being contradictory. He’s a farce.

  • 38 6-19-2010 at 10:33 pm

    Ganonlink1991 said...

    Best Picture (Win)
    Best Adapted Screenplay (Win)
    Best Original Score
    Best Original Song (Win)
    Best Animated Feature (Win)
    Best Sound Mixing
    Best Sound Editing (Win)

  • 39 6-30-2010 at 7:26 pm

    head_wizard said...

    It will get the best picture nomination a win is still hard to see but it has best animated feature in the bag. (as if I needed to even say that)