Posted by: Leslie White | June 21, 2010

Why am I so quick to doubt sometimes?

Image source found at link below

I was a little unenthusiastic when I first heard that Pixar was in production on Toy Story 3, but yesterday I saw the film and left the movie theater more than satisfied.

Day and Night: This animated short was a lot of fun. It is difficult to describe this animation, and even more difficult to figure out how they got it to work. As I was watching it, I was trying to work out how they could have achieved the effects. I imagine there is some serious masking involved, although how the multiple masks could switch back and forth AND move both in front of and in back of each other is beyond me. There was a nice moral message at the conclusion of the story, which was delivered lightly enough so that the audience did not feel as though they were being lectured to.

The movie itself: To be honest, during the first ten minutes I was getting worried that Pixar did not have anything new to offer in this film. It opens with a familiar scene: Woody, Buzz, and the rest of Andy’s toys trying to execute a complicated mission to get Andy to play with them again. The pace picks up quickly though when the real plot is introduced: Andy is leaving home for college and has to decide what to do with his old toys. When the majority of the toys end up being donated to a local day care center, the toys are subjected the out of control play habits of some rambunctious children. I particularly enjoyed the moments where one child uses Jessie as a paint brush and Barbie runs off with her new friend Ken to his dream house.  Throughout the rest of the film, there was just the right amount of humor to keep both adults and children laughing. I can even remember a handful of particularly hilarious moments when the entire theater erupted and some dialog lines could not be heard over the laughter. The animation itself – well its Pixar, so you know it was flawless. The real strength of this film though can be found in the last half hour of screen time. As the plot reaches its climax, the toy’s situation gets very dire and we get a chance to see some of the best facial acting Pixar has done. Without giving too much away, during this scene the character’s emotions are relayed to each other purely via their facial expressions and a small gesture…I was nearly undone. The conclusion is satisfying and again delivers a moral message that consequently gives the film a sort of timeless strength.

This movie has to be applauded for what it accomplished. It took a storyline that most people considered exhausted and a concept that most would regard as silly and turned it into the weekend’s best blockbuster and most successful opening Pixar Animation Studios has ever seen. This film had placed the entire Toy Story Saga into the “Top Ten Movie Trilogies” list, and is anticipated to stay at the top of the movie list for a while.

P.S. While writing this post, I came across a news article featuring Michael Arndt (writer or Toy Story 3) and his view on using silence in Toy Story 3:

“Arndt feels “the best or strongest moments in animated films, especially in Pixar films, have been silent: WALL-E and Eve dancing through space, or, in ‘Up,’ the montage of married life. For ‘Toy Story 3’ I was very conscious of trying to keep the chatter to the minimum, but I was juggling a lot of characters, and you didn’t want any of them to turn into luggage; each had to chime in.” (That’s Jessie, Buzz and and Woody, above.) Luckily, Pixar believes in putting the whole movie together early in “story reels,” rough-draft cartoons made from storyboards, “which give you a chance to learn whether dialogue is redundant and you can present an idea purely visually. Sometimes a joke is there to be a joke, sometimes it’s the button at the end of a scene, and sometimes its exposition in disguise. It usually ought to serve more than one purpose.”

Michael Arndt quote and photograph from the Baltimore Sun: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/movies/blog/2010/06/more_on_writing_little_miss_su.html

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