Animation particularly when it comes out of the Disney/Pixar stable is one of those areas of filmmaking that regularly inspires the phrase "They don't make them like they used to." In the case of Toy Story 3 however it's more accurate to say "They have never made them like this." It's certainly not unheard of for an animated film to be good for a Pixar film to be great or for the third film in a trilogy to be outstanding (though that's the rarest of the three) but in the case of Lee Unkrich's film the sheer degree at which it exceeds at all three is not just rare it's unprecedented.
Eleven years have elapsed since Woody (Tom Hanks) Buzz (Tim Allen) and all of Andy's favorite playthings had their last adventure -- rather 11 years have elapsed since Andy stopped playing with his toys. Buoyed by Woody's never-failing devotion the gang is all optimistic that Andy will elect to bring them with him to his first year of college but as that fateful empty-nest day approaches it becomes clearer and clearer that the only toy that will be making the trek to school is Woody. The rest are all by a series of unfortunate events consigned to live out their remaining days at Sunnyside daycare. Things are actually looking up for the neglected entertainers until they realize just how careless the ankle-biters are when it comes to playing with toys.
Unfortunately there is no escape in sight for the lovable personalities Pixar has been refining for over a decade. Lotso Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty) runs a tight ship at Sunnyside; the new toys are just going to have to be sacrificed to the aggressive toddlers so the old veterans can have a relaxing time with their more mature counterparts. Eventually Woody catches wind of what kind of life his old pals are being forced to live and Toy Story 3 quite brilliantly becomes a riff on classic prison escape movies as Woody seeks to breach Lotso's security measures and bring his bunch back to Andy where they belong. And while this on-the-run chunk of the film is some of the most thrilling material Pixar has ever delivered it's also some of the most touching.
Unlike most sequels not a moment of Toy Story 3 feels artificial. There's no sense that Pixar decided to make a third film because it knew that the box office would gladly support another entry; no sense that this is a cash grab (unlike a certain green ogre's most recent trip to the big screen). All of those typical sequel pitfalls are carefully avoided by a swelling sense of finality. Toy Story 3 isn't just another adventure with these characters -- there is in fact no doubt that this is their final adventure their final hoorah together. Director Lee Unkrich and screenwriter Michael Arndt meticulously lead the audience along with bated breath the entire time culminating in a life-or-death scenario for the toys that is more heartfelt and genuine than most live-action films can ever muster.
It's astonishing how the creative team at Pixar can make you forget that what you're watching is all a bunch of digital wizardry. Maybe it's the 3D this time around maybe it's that this is the studio's most accomplished technical feat to date (there are single shots at a landfill that pack in richer detail than the entirety of the pioneering first film) that makes Toy Story 3 such an immersive experience. Or maybe it's simply because Pixar treats its property which is ostensibly for children with the utmost sincerity. The result is an overwhelming success the rare kind of film that were it a human being would be your best friend.
One could reasonably make the case that Toy Story 3 is the single best animated film ever made. I wouldn't outright agree with such grandiose claims but it's certainly not a baseless proposition that you'd be laughed at for bringing up. However with part three now tucked under Pixar's belt one could present an even better case that Toy Story is the best film trilogy ever made -- a claim I am far more comfortable signing on the dotted line for.
Liza Minnelli and husband David Gest are railing against VH1 for scrapping their reality TV show. VH1 announced in late October that it was not moving forward with the series Liza and David, which would show the entertainer and her husband in their home, because they were not given access or cooperation from the couple. According to Reuters, Minnelli and Gest say the claims are absurd and in fact, the TV camera crews ruined their apartment and a VH1 programming executive was rude to them. "We didn't hide anything," Minnelli said in a news release. "Listen, I came out of the womb and somebody slapped me on the ass and I've been in the public ever since."
A preliminary report pertaining to actress Winona Ryder, who was convicted of grand theft and vandalism last Wednesday, is missing. According to Reuters, the report, which details some personal information about the actress and possible probation recommendations, was not among the files for Ryder in a locked cabinet. Ken Kondo, a spokesman from the Los Angeles County Probation Department, told Reuters the loss of the report was "unusual." "From our standpoint, we're concerned," he said.
Film and television actor Merlin Santana, 26, who most recently appeared with Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy in Showtime, was shot and killed while sitting in a parked car early Saturday in South Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Police Department told The Associated Press Santana was sitting in the passenger seat around 2:38 a.m. when at least one gunmen approached the vehicle and fired. The driver escaped injury and drove off to find the police. No arrests have been made as yet.
Mexican actress Salma Hayek may need a little help pushing her film Frida in her homeland. Reuters reports several Mexican film critics have panned the movie, which depicts the turbulent life of famed artist Frida Kahlo, for being too Americanized and for trivializing some of Mexico's most revered artists. The critics' main objection is that Frida should have been made in Kahlo's native tongue. "The money the film was made with is American. To be able to recoup that, the film had to be in English ... but Frida's art is for everyone," Hayek told Reuters. "It's a language that transcends divisions."
After flopping at the U.S. box office, the Guy Ritchie/Madonna film Swept Away will not be released in U.K. cinemas, according to distributor Columbia TriStar. Reuters reports British moviegoers will have wait for the video release to see what all the negative fuss is about.
In an effort to stop copyright piracy, similar to the what the music industry is currently battling, five major movie studios have come together to launch a new Internet site, Movielink.com, which will sell and rent DVD titles. This venture, backed by Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM, should be a lucrative move to market the studios' libraries of movies.
Al Gore will reprise his role as his own perserved head on the season premiere of Fox's animated TV series Futurama. "I think I may have a future as a disembodied head," Gore joked in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday. "I'm not sure that any political calculation would have steered me toward this part, but it was great fun doing it." The show airs Sunday.
Guns 'N' Roses lead singer Axl Rose may want to hire a bodyguard. The band was to begin their first concert tour since 1993 in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, but Rose failed to show up, inciting the fans to riot. Dozens of people threw rocks at the police and security guards when promoters canceled the show at the last minute. "Axl is going to pay!" one man screamed at a television camera, Reuters reports. Rose apparently had airplane problems in California.