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Movie Review: Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 Poster
Toy Story 3 poster

Rated G for being appropriate for all ages, and a must-see for everyone.  Remember, a “G” rating or that the film is animated does not mean that the film is intended to be seen only by children.
Rating: A+

TOY STORY 3 is the latest film from Disney-Pixar, and completes the Toy Story trilogy that had releases in 1995 and 1999.  While the first two Toy Story films were made four years apart, Web Watch will estimate that only 2 years of movie-time passed for the characters in the film.  On the other hand, Toy Story 3 was released 11 years after Toy Story 2, and the filmmakers decided to run the movie clock those eleven years as well – which means that it’s time for the toy’s owner, Andy, to head off to college.

Andy’s mom gives Andy an ultimatum: clean out your room and sort everything into one of three piles: trash, attic, or donate.  Toy Story 3’s plot is all about what happens when Andy’s attic-bound toys are mistakenly thrown out. 

The toys figure out how to donate themselves to a local daycare center and escape the trash bin, and that’s when the fun begins as Toy Story 3 turns into a classic prison escape film, with each toy contributing to the best of their toy abilities to the effort.  Web Watch can’t wait to see if a certain new accessory will be sold at the Downtown Disney “Build A Potato Head” kiosk.

We’ll leave the specifics of the rest of the film plot as a surprise to the filmgoer.  Some reviewers are calling TOY STORY 3 THE BEST FILM OF 2010, which should be good enough a recommendation for anyone.  And based on the crowd reaction at the screening we attended, it’s OKAY FOR A GROWN MAN TO CRY.  Movie fans that know that Pixar always focuses on story first will not be disappointed.  Trust us when we tell you that if you have grown up with the Toy Story films over the last 15 years, you will be pleased with how the third film in the trilogy wraps things up nicely.  It’s one of those rare times where the third film is just as good — or better — than the first.

One thing of note is that you may want to choose wisely regarding which version of Toy Story 3 you want to see:

  • Should you choose the standard 2D version?  (NO!)
  • Should you see the film in a regular theater with REAL-3D?  (Sure!)
  • What about IMAX 3D?  (Ah, that’s the issue…)

Keep in mind that there are SOME IMAX THEATERS that aren’t the same size as other IMAX theaters.  While the film may still be 70mm instead of the typical 35mm, the screen size may not be the typical enormous IMAX experience.  Check with your local theater to see which one qualifies for you.

Also, TOY STORY 3 WAS SHOT IN 1.85:1, according to Lee Unkrich, the director.  This is the same aspect ratio as the first two Toy Story films, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, and UP.  The more typical widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 was used for The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, and WALL-E.   But Toy Story 3 on IMAX doesn’t even hit the 1.85:1 image that the filmmakers shot at — the IMAX presentation is at a 1.44:1 image, which is similar to the 4:3 aspect ratio that old tube TVs used. 

In other words, unless your IMAX theater is using the full 1.85:1 image and banding it to fit the 4:3 (similar to what you’d see watching an older film on your fancy widescreen TV), then there is a possibility that you won’t be seeing the full film image that Pixar intended you to see – instead, you’ll be seeing a film cropped to fit the IMAX screen. 

All that being said — there is one thing that troubles Web Watch about the storyline, and it serves as an ironic example of how DISNEY MERCHANDISING HAS FAILED TO MEET ALL TARGET AUDIENCES.  It’s a Disney film about what happens when children turn to adults and have outgrown their toys, yet still shows Andy taking the time to take his beloved toys to the attic for later use (whether it be for storage for his own future kids or some other reason is irrelevant – that they were being saved for later is the important point here)… and ironically, Disney has continued to ignore the adult market when it comes to merchandising.

Walk around any cubicle farm/office environment, and you will see a plethora of toys decorating workspaces.  From Nerf to stress balls, magnetic building bases to FRIGITS magnetic refrigerator ball runs — office workers are often trying to find ways to distract their minds from becoming overwhelmed with only thinking about work.  Toys may offer a bit of escapism and joy, but there’s nothing that says that toys are strictly intended for children – or that once a person reaches a certain age that toys are no longer important or necessary. 

When Andy has to make the decision of “toss, store, or donate” with regards to his toys – toys that he has built an emotional relationship with over 15+ years – not once does “toss” come into the picture.  The emotional release, comfort, or feeling of safety that toys provide is an important one, and those feelings do not have an age limit.

All of which makes Web Watch wonder why Disney Consumer Products insist on limiting their product selection to only making products for a specific age range or gender.  There is no question about children being the primary target audience of the majority of Disney merchandise campaigns, but the plot line of TOY STORY 3 proves that even though children turn into adults — there is still a desire to stay connected with the toys and characters that they grew up with.    Growing older does not necessarily equate to growing up.

If Pixar ever decides to make Toy Story 4, we hope that it would be about how a 30-year-old Andy can’t find Woody and Buzz-related merchandise at the local amusement park, even though Andy has money to spend.  Perhaps if John Lasseter and Pixar sent a message that blunt about there being a lack of appropriate adult-oriented character merchandise at Disney theme parks and shopping outlets is when Disney Consumer Products will finally realize that there is a hole in their revenue model.

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