So last night I finally got around to watching Toy Story 3.
And yeah, it did make me cry, a little, at the end. (And I am NEVER giving away Caroline the Bunny and Coach the Bear. NEVER!)
In the final installment of the Toy Story franchise, Andy is going off to college, and all the toys, save Woody, are going to be living in the attic for awhile. Woody, however, is going with Andy to college.
Or…that’s the plan. Until Andy’s Mom accidentally puts the attic bound toys out by the curb, thinking that they’re trash. The toys, feeling abandoned, decide to be donated to Sunnyside Daycare with some of Molly’s toys (notably Barbie). Although Woody warns them that daycare is a dark and scary place, they are determined to go.
There, they met Lotso, a big strawberry-scented bear who runs the joint, and cosigns the toys to the Caterpillar Room. He assures them that here, the children never grow up (the older ones are replaced with younger kids), toys are taken care of, and you are always played with.
Woody manages to escape but the rest of the toys are definitely “played with’ by the very rambuctious toddlers who occupy the caterpillar room. Lotso and the other toys are in the “Butterfly room”, with older kids, who treat the toys much better. Buzz tries to convince Lotso to let Andy’s toys in there—but Lotso reveals a much darker side than previously seen.
Meanwhile, Woody has been adopted by Bonnie, whose mom runs the daycare. He makes friends with the new toys, but desperately tries to get back to Andy before he leaves for college. But his plans change when one of Bonnie’s toys, who used to be friends with Lotso (they belonged to the same owner, Daisy), tells Woody what the daycare center is really like under Lotso’s reign. Horrified, Woody returns to the daycare center and leads a breakout attempt.
Now since this is Toy Story (and the last Toy Story, to boot), you know it’s gonna end happily. You’re just not quite sure how. The escape sequence is a little long (the movie is 1 hour and 40 minutes, which is pushing it.). Mr. Potato Head has the lion’s share of good lines, and of the new toys, my favorite was definitely Ken. Buzz breaks out his comedy chops when he’s accidentally switched to Spanish mode (and dances a flamenco with a befuddled Jessie.) It’s a lovely, and fitting, conclusion to the long-running series.
However, I don’t seriously consider it a Best Picture contender. Sure, it’s a nice movie. It’s a good movie. It’ll probably make you cry. But there are some flaws in the pacing, and it just doesn’t demonstrate the A+, major league quality I’d expect from an animated feature looking to be a serious best picture contender. I’ve read some pieces saying that since it’s the third part of a trilogy, it might be nominted (and—gasp—win) based on a LOTR-type precedent.
Um, LOTR was a planned trilogy. The Academy knew—three movies, three chances for Best Picture. Of course it makes sense to wait and award the trophy to Return of the King. Hello.
Toy Story was not a planned trilogy (at least I don’t think it was). There’s a huge gap between the first one and this one. Now, the first Toy Story did things that were pretty groundbreaking. This one? Not so much. Also given the tremendous slate of potential best picture nominees, I don’t think there’s room for Toy Story 3, no matter how cute it is, or how many adults it made cry. There’s a lot of excellent cinema this year, and I don’t think this movie belongs in the category. Sure, put it in best animated feature and it’ll clean up (Sorry, Tangled). Maybe Disney wants to give Tangled a shot at Best Animated Feature, by moving Toy Story 3 to Best Picture—but I don’t know if that’s a good move for them. (I’ll see Tangled when it comes out later this month.) There’s always machinations by the studios when it comes to deciding what goes where (See: Fox Searchlight will be promoting both Black Swan and 127 Hours—it’s distributing both.).
So, to recap: Good movie. Not a movie I’d want to see in the Best Picture category, and I’d definitely not want it to win. This could, obviously, change as I see other potential Best Picture nominees. But right now—no dice.