Toy Story 3, written by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich and Michael Arndt, directed by Lee Unkrich, starring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn and John Ratzenberger (2010): Pixar really ‘gets’ a certain type of storytelling, allowing it to turn grown men into blubbering silly putty when faced with the plight of a gang of toys or robots or even cars.
This paean to growing up and letting go rightfully won 2010’s Best Animated Feature Oscar, its relatively simple story buttressed by great slabs of ingenious animation, characterization, and bizarre little blink-and-miss-it details popping away Mad magazine-like in the background of most scenes. A Pixar film generally represents the dramatic embodiment of “Chekhov’s Gun” — everything you’re shown early in the movie will go off, one way or another, by the end of the movie, satisfyingly and with great panache.
There is an odd fastidiousness to the Toy Story universe — most children, myself included, beat the shit out of their toys at some point in their lives; on Earth Toy-Story, that makes you the toy-using equivalent of a sexual predator (remember the kid who recombined the parts of his toys into groovy new configurations in the first Toy Story?).
I’m not sure if there’s anything ideological behind this anal-retentiveness, or just a bunch of overly protective writers and artists. It’s OK to burn your toys with a magnifying glass if you want to simulate Steve Austin’s exposure to a death ray, kids. This does not make you a sociopath because TOYS AREN’T ACTUALLY ALIVE!!! Highly recommended.