A Cinematic Perfect Game

The Pixar campus in CA.

This is a review of a little flick you may have heard of, Toy Story 3, from the folks at, yes, Pixar and Disney, helmed by Lee Unkrich, typed by Michael Arndt, and made by literally a million people.

Is there anything they can’t do?  Yes, Pixar (and make no mistake, it is Pixar, not the mother mouse) has released 11 movies that are both very good and not incidentally have made gobs of money;  yes, they have saved the Mouse House, and bestowed the head of animation title on Pixar’s mighty John Lasseter; and yes, their characters have become global brands significantly woven into the theme parks.  But with Toy Story 3, Pixar has done the impossible, and by that I mean not just make a terrific, smart, entertaining, endearing threequel.  They have made a wonderful IMAX 3-D film.

I have not seen many movies in IMAX 3-D.  Outside of that little blue flick, I have, of course, seen excellent flicks in IMAX (The Dark Knight, Star Trek) and huge, messy amusement park rides in IMAX 3-D (uh, Alice in Wonderland).  But here is the first time I have sat down with the masses and felt for characters in IMAX 3-D without thinking, Where’s the story?

Yes, they're real

Perhaps this is because Pixar famously takes years and years to focus on story, willing to throw out computerized film if it doesn’t work.  Perhaps this is because the company bought in Little Miss Sunshine Oscar-winner Michael Arndt, much the way they brought in The Visitor‘s Tom McCarthy to assist with Up.  Perhaps this is because Woody and Buzz have been with us for so long (and really as the first smash computer created characters on the big screen), that we’ve grown up with them; shared their adventures and visited them at theme parks.  We are Andyites.  (There’s a moment near the end of the flick when Andy mentions the weird little aliens are from Pizza Planet, and it’s seriously like he’s discussing our childhood.)

Inside the Pixar campus

Perhaps this time out isn’t quite as funny as last time (though Barbie and Ken add a ton of humor, and there’s a Buzz-gag that’s to die for).  But what this flick has in thrills (good, dark, cliffhanger set pieces that have been missing in so many mainstream movies) and, perhaps even more importantly, heart, makes it a truly spectacular experience.  There have been reports of grown men crying during the film, and why not?  Both the beginning and ending of the film have through-the-years nostalgic pieces that recall not only the awesome adventures of Woody, Buzz and the gang, but our relationship to them, to Pixar.  It’s a feat for any film.  For an ostensible children’s flick, it’s a marvel.

Outside the Pixar campus

Perhaps your favorite was Finding Nemo.  Maybe it’s the more adult Ratatouille, or the more kiddie Cars.  Maybe, like me, it’s Wall-E.  No matter.  Pixar has delivered yet another spectacular film, an experience to be savored in the theater (in IMAX 3-D, if possible).  They’ve also delivered an homage to their original, career-making, groundbreaking characters.  Gather up some friends and go.

The title of this post refers to that 11-for-11 streak.  Oh, and don’t miss the quick Bug’s Life cameo in the flick!

The new Pixar Place, in WDW

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One Response to “A Cinematic Perfect Game”

  1. patricia harrington schreiber Says:

    Hi Wally,
    I saw this at the Nantucket film festival without the IMAX/3D technology but still wonderful. I couldn’t agree with you more. It was so well done. Michael Arndt was there and gave us a lot of background. Lots of kids in the audience at the Sconset Casino many carrying Woody or Buzz toys – They made no noise other than laughter, they we totally mesmerized. The Ken and Barbie stuff was hilarious as was Spanish Buzz. There were so many wonderful bits, it needs viewing more than once to get them all. They also managed to pull of a very sweet ending without being cheezy.

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