Movies: Toy Story 3

We took in Toy Story 3 over the weekend – family movie night.  Since this movie’s been out for quite awhile now, and because it’s been almost universally lauded as great (an opinion we share), I’m not going to do a full review.  Suffice to say that if you liked the earlier movies, this chapter is every bit as strong.  If you have kids and are looking for the rare gem that has universal appeal (especially when considering how many truly awful ‘family’ movies get released), Toy Story 3 is top of the mountain.  See it while you can, before something dumber and less entertaining bumps it out of the local cineplex.

And on the topic of the local cineplex, here in Springfield we’ve seen locally-owned Kerasotes Theaters bought out by national chain, AMC.  The formal switchover took place a couple of weeks ago, and AMC wasted no time in jacking up prices for both tickets and snacks.  Now it’s only slightly less expensive for a children’s ticket on a weekend night than for the previous price of an adult tickets.  Full-price tickets are up $2, and the snack prices have increased by a third (with no more popcorn combos).  Not very happy about this.  I briefly reviewed prices around Central Illinois, and we currently have the most expensive theaters in the area.  Yay, Springfield! With no real competition for AMC, this isn’t likely to change.

As far as the movie, kudos to the writing team (John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich, and Michael Arndt).  Other producers should hire these guys whenever possible, because they know what they’re doing.  Hats off to production team and Pixar as well.  Without such an understanding of the digital environment, without such control of the technology and the characters’ physical capabilities, and most importantly, without such empathy and knowledge of Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and the gang, this would have been just another cash-grab sequel.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the show for me was imagining how the writers came up with the plot points, the escape caper, and the toys’ version of Mordor.  You could imagine some Pixar dude picking up the kids at daycare and thinking about all the possibilities – from salvation to purgatory – of such a place for toys.  The whole escape caper sequence had elements of everything from Sneakers to Oceans 11 to the granddaddy, The Great Escape. And when you think about the possibilities for Toy-hell, your area landfill and recycling center is perfect.  It’s too bad other more conventional action movies seem incapable of cleverly playing with convention and delivering this kind of experience.  So many of them just fail.  Toy Story 3, however, blends action, comedy, and those emotional moments almost effortlessly.  A real pleasure to watch, despite the inflated prices.  See it while you can.

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