Sunday, 8 August 2010

Threequel

I am such a sentimental sap.

Way back in the dying days of my PhD, an evening spent cruising the drinking dens of Leamington Spa finished up in the house of a friend-of-a-friend, with us all raptly watching the original Toy Story. I fell in love. Not, as might be expected for me, with the whole computer animation aspect, but instead with the emotional / sentimental pull the film exerted on heart-strings I never knew existed.

Several years later, my heart beat a little faster with the news that a sequel was to appear but, knowing sequels, it was a guarded tachycardial rise. Oh ye of little faith. Said heart strings were pulled once more by Toy Story 2, a follow-up that more than matches its ancestor in cleverness and its wholesome brand of sentimentality. To the degree that it's now a touchstone in film criticism (at least when I'm around) as the best example of a violation of the law of diminishing returns (though there is competition).

Imagine, reader, my excitement in hearing the news that a sequel2, a threequel, was in the works. This time around fears of failure were (largely) cast to the wind, and cardiac muscle was much exercised. All justifiably as it now turns out. Toy Story 3 cements the good work of both previous generations, and completes[*] the life-cycle of the child-toy relationship. While, unsurprisingly, things get all emotional at the end (diffused pleasurably by the end-credits sequences), I was much more stretched and strained by the near-death experience faced down by Woody et al. that was immediately preceding.[**] Pixar truly know their onions if they can play an old cynic like me as if I was some finely-tuned sentimentality instrument.



[*] Technically, a sequel is not out of the question, and could pop up in the future if Pixar need a sure-fire financial hit. But it's unnecessary, and would be a mistake given that TS3 essentially closes the "circle of life" for toys. Still, one should not underestimate the power of money.

[**] Again, more excellent diffusion here, with one of the best running gags ("the claw").

5 comments:

chimpaction said...

I absolutely agree. My two are Toy Story mad so we took them for their first ever cinema visit. The furnace scene truly is brutal and heart-wrenching no matter if you're 4 or an adult...

Plumbago said...

It's the linking of arms that does it for me. Woody et al. have been through lots of scrapes over the three films, but nothing remotely as final as the incinerator. And the film-makers stall their rescue just long enough for the viewer (well, this viewer) to begin to wonder why this has been labelled the "last Toy Story". Of course the scene's conclusion, coming as it does with the culmination of the long-running claw gag, makes for a great tension-releasing climactic rescue.

Anyway, how did Iona and Cameron get on with their first cinema trip? You might have set the bar on future film nights a little high! I hope that it all worked out well. Were you viewing in 3D by the way?

chimpaction said...

They were very well behaved. They were a bit perplexed by the Night & Day short at the start but really got into it once the film itself began.

Cameron took to occasionally declaring in a loud voice to wanting to change the channel but liberal dispensing of pick and mix soon put paid to that.

It was an emotional rollercoaster for Iona but there were no tears (plenty of cries of horror though) I think her father found the furnace more upsetting than she did to be honest ;) The actual ending I found somewhat of an anticlimax after that although still nicely done with the final pan into the sky to mirror the opening of the first film.

On a final note, the pre-credit train scene has to be one of the best movie openers since I don't know when - "Death by monkeys!" - brilliant!!

chimpaction said...

Oh - 2D. Iona would probably have been ok with wearing the glasses but we couldn't be sure of Cameron and didn't want to risk the prospect of him not wearing the glasses and bring subjected to blur-o-vision.

Besides, I saw Avatar in 3D and while it was mildly impressive it gave me a stonking headache..

Plumbago said...

I didn't spot the nod to the first film, but then I've not seen either of the earlier films in years. I'll look out for that next time I do see it.

I'd agree about the train scene. The iterative ramping up of the battle was really funny. And, yes, "death by monkeys" was ace.

Anyway, good to hear that Iona and Cameron enjoyed it. I don't think you missed anything by skipping on the 3D. Again, much like Avatar, it doesn't add a whole lot, although I didn't find it a problematic as the 3D there. To their credit, and much as in Avatar, Pixar also resisted the temptation to throw things at the audience. But 2D would have been fine.