Here is what I think about Toy Story 3’s position in the race. ¬†If it is making grown men cry, which it obviously is — men AND women — it will be a formidable contender, landing easily in the Best Pic 10, but also duking it out with How to Train Your Dragon for the Animated Feature prize. ¬†Dragon has surprise word of mouth and an original story (not a sequel). ¬†Toy Story 3 has an Oscar-winning screenwriter, Michael Arndt, hitting it out of the park, and becoming, maybe, a worthy adieu for this beloved series.
Although Wall-E still might be the best reviewed Pixar film, Toy Story 3 is coming damn close. MetaCritic is a little hesitant to give it a glowing 95%, but it’s at 89. TIME Mag calls it an “instant classic,” adding at the end, “What’s more potent is the upping of the emotional ante. TS3 puts its characters and the moviegoing children who love them in their severest crisis yet. Not since the early Disney classics have cartoon characters faced so dire a threat with such heroic grace. Lasseter recalls a meeting of the Pixar brain trust for the first reading of the story. “By the end,” he says, “I had tears streaming down my face. I looked around the table, and we all had tears.”
And Slate’s Dana Stevens calls it “A near-perfect piece of popular entertainment, a children’s classic,” and admits at the end, “Shit‚Äînow I’m crying again.”
AO Scott, a little less weepy, writes, “This film ‚Äî this whole three-part, 15-year epic ‚Äî about the adventures of a bunch of silly plastic junk turns out also to be a long, melancholy meditation on loss, impermanence and that noble, stubborn, foolish thing called love. We all know money can‚Äôt buy it, except sometimes, for the price of a plastic figurine or a movie ticket.”
And Kenneth Turan, “Lots of connections to other films dot “Toy Story 3,” nods to the westerns of John Ford, the animation of Hayao Miyazaki and the kind of prison films where someone plays the harmonica on death row. But more than that, by creating the emotions we have always counted on and so rarely find anymore, this film becomes the kind of love note to movies we want and need.”
The ¬†Chicago dudes weren’t as enthralled. ¬†Ebert gave it only three out of four stars, “This is a jolly, slapstick comedy, lacking the almost eerie humanity that infused the earlier ‚ÄúToy Story‚Äù sagas, and happier with action and jokes than with characters and emotions.”
And Michael Phillips thought it wasn’t quite up to the level of the first two, “Though uneven and less witty than the first two, “Toy Story 3″ delivers quite enough in two dimensions. And there’s a lovely coda, in effect a curtain call for the characters we know so well.”