Sunday, 14 August 2011

Toy Story 3


In a week that has seen a very negative portrayal of community and interdependence on the streets of the UK it was good to watch this film which offers a very positive model of what it means to live together. This film is thoroughly watchable and probably the best of the franchise. Taking in excess of $1 billion at the box office, it's animation is so good that at times you forget your watching a cartoon. The characterisations are top notch too - being accesible to both your average pre-schooler and also to adults - if they have eyes to see and ears to hear.

In a world where positive stories about loyalty, sacrifice and common calling are hard to find, this film delivers buckets full of challenging drama. I managed to resist shedding a tear - but it was close. Even though I rationalised that I was watching a cartoon with a script that was trying to exact maximum leverage on me, I found it hard not to be sucked in by the compelling way the narrative is delivered.

This is also a film about risk taking and about doing the right thing - even when the consequences have dire consequences. You cannot fail to watch this film and link the characters to your circle of friends, colleagues and family. Unless you have turned your brain off, you will also recognise yourself in many of the characters. That is why this film is so compelling - because it has the power to touch many of our deepest needs and set up a dialogue of empathy through which Woody, Buzz and co become vicarious avatars through which our past wrongs are righted.

The film also deals very effectively with transition, grief, loss and the challenge of growing into a new life opening up in fornt of you. The Ken and Barbie relationship is great fun which rips into many stereotypical portrayals of type. Mr and Mrs Potato Head give a strong account of what a loving and committed relationship has to go through in order to survive. Buzz's flirting with Jessie is good fun too.

Whichever toy feels down, the others are always on hand to lift their spirits. No-one is unloved or unlovable and even the evil Lotso is given a second chance by Woody - it's up to him what he does with it and there is a touch of ironic justice in the fate that eventually befalls him. The power of lies to control and coerce are explored and when exposed offer the hope and opportunity of repentance and reconciliation. These are all strong themes that draw on our Judeo-Christian heritage and deliver the happy ending demanded by Western audiences. Not a sentimental and mushy ending like Super 8 but a happy ending that involves loss, real cost and the need to adjust to a new and previously unforeseen outcome.

This really is top draw drama and a great advertisement for state-of-the-art animation. If you've not seen it - go and see it. If you've already seen it - watch it again. Make sure the disc or bytes are sitting (legally) in your collection.

I'll give this 8.5/10.

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