Toy Story 3 (2010)

(In Theaters, July 2010) Making a sequel to a beloved film is usually a loser’s game: We can all name follow-ups to classics that were derided, pilloried or (worse) forgotten.  But if anyone can buck the trend, it’s Pixar, a studio so sure-footed in its choices since the original Toy Story back in 1995 that even their most disappointing films have been a cut above average.  So there is no surprise and considerable cheer if Toy Story 3 once again proves to be an extraordinary achievement.  Even its status as a sequel becomes an asset as the story ages along its characters, features long-running payoffs (“The Claw!”) and hits an emotional climax that wouldn’t be nearly so effective if it didn’t mark the end of a 15-year journey: its surprising thematic depth about loss and renewal actually depends on it being a sequel.  As for the rest, it’s classic Pixar top-shelf material: Thrilling action sequences, numerous sight gags, honest character development, inventive sequences and a rhythm that makes everything go by the blink of an eye.  Any comparisons with the previous two movies will highlight the exceptional quality of the computer animation, which is particularly effective in dealing with human figures –and fortunately so given the importance that they play in the narrative.  But it’s the emotional impact of the film that will remain long after the incredible detail of its visuals have been forgotten: Unlike Up, the script wisely keeps its bawling moments for the end, and thus caps a complete film experience that delivers everything one could wish for in a mass-market entertainment blockbuster.  As usual for Pixar (not that they should be taken for granted), Toy Story 3 is a solid choice for year’s end consideration and one of the finest “Part Three” ever made so far.  The only way it could be better is if there is no “Part Four”. Ever.

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