Some people have grown up with Star Wars, others hold Lord of the Rings close to their heart, but myself, since I was nine years old have grown up with Toy Story. It's been over 10 years since Pixar unleashed the wonderful - arguably superior - sequel upon the world, and ever since there has been talk of "will they" or "won't they" in regards to the possibility of a mythical third. Finally those nights living in hope are over.
Set approximately 10 years after the second instalment, time hasn't been kind to our favourite collection of toys, as their owner Andy (fine name by the way...) has, of course, grown older and understandably fell out of love with Woody, Buzz and the gang, who have resided themselves to living in the toy box for a number of years.
The real adventure starts to take shape when their dear owner is packing up for college, leaving his old toys to wonder whether they are excess scrap in a land-fill site or doomed to be pawned off on E-Bay. This sets them off on a journey to a day-care centre, which is not all what it seems, and forces the toys to confront some of their most unfortunate fears.
You only have to look at the trailer and reference the themes handled in previous Pixar films to know Toy Story 3 strikes a chord with people of all ages. And it's not an exaggeration to say all ages. It has enough playful humour and, fun, lovable characters to make a child smile, while also containing bundles of wit and class to genuinely make any grown adult laugh out loud. The film brings back some of the more 'scarier' moments seen, more so, in the original than the second chapter, as the 'evil' toys running the prison-like daycare centre make for some pretty horrid individuals.
While it's sad to see some characters from the first two films not return (I won't say who...), this is where Toy Story 3 actually makes its own case as the best of the trilogy. Any living person growing up can relate to having friends or family who were close to your heart at one point of your life but the painful realisation, sometimes, is we can all drift apart or feel like we're not needed any more. This film plays on this raw emotion and rewards its audience in bucket-loads.
Its not all completely tear-jerking (well mostly...), the film is still one of the most fun family adventures you are likely to see in the cinema all year, references older films such as The Great Escape and even a hint of The Shawshank Redemption, Star Wars, and strangely a bit of bleak Cormac McCarthy-esque narrative thrown in also - regarding one character's flashback story.
The voice cast were in fantastic form and haven't lost any of their charm with Tom Hanks and Tim Allen leading the charge as Woody and Buzz respectively. Don Rickles and John Ratzenberger provide plenty of dry witty banter in the form of Ham and Mr Potato Head while the grossly under-rated Michael Keaton delivers some scene-stealing numbers as the fashion loving, yet self-concious Ken doll. Obsessed Disney fans, such as I, will of course notice the role of Barbie was played by one Jodi Benson (who, everyone else asks?!) - the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid.
Pixar's animation has obviously evolved leaps and bounds in the ten years since Toy Story 2, and yet the third is the outright best in terms of visuals, everything from the bedroom to the toy designs and even the human characters still retained an air of familiarity about them which still places it comfortably beside its predecessors.
Then of course there's the soundtrack, once again composed by ever-talented Randy Newman, and yes it features that utterly joyful song - You Got A Friend In Me, as well as, featuring some new pieces which fit beautifully into the film itself.
We've grown older, and Toy Story has grown up with us. I can only hope any nine year old child will have the same love and affection for this entire trilogy from its classy wit and beautiful visuals to its timeless characters, and their adventures, when they're in their 20s as I have. I genuinely fail to see how anyone could not like this film or the films to come before it. Its closing scene will warm your heart, as well as, make you shed a tear. And if it doesn't? Then at least it's forever got a friend in me...
See This If You Liked...
Toy Story 1 and 2.
Toy Story 3 is in cinemas nationwide now.