Pixar wins again 

'Toy Story 3' is the rare excellent final chapter in a trilogy.

'TOY STORY 3': The rare third installment of a trilogy that's good.
  • 'TOY STORY 3': The rare third installment of a trilogy that's good.

I hate reviewing films after their release. It's an unfortunate necessity for a weekly paper — we can't make it to press in time unless we're lucky enough to see a critic's screening at least a couple of weeks in advance, which rarely happens. I loathe that fact right now, because I want to tell you all about "Toy Story 3," and damned if you haven't already seen it.

Not that you'd be waiting for me or anybody to tell you. Either you have kids or you appreciate brilliant filmmaking, in which case I'm a week late and ten dollars short, or else you're an idiot and hate things that are good, in which case I have no use for you. Because "Toy Story 3" is amazing, and I wish I could have been the one to buoy your expectations.

Good three-quels are as rare as the unassisted triple plays in baseball. They almost never happen. But they are never, never this good. You'll be laughing and cheering before you're five minutes in. If you're not 6 years old, you'll feel like it. And it rarely lets up from there.

We're now approaching the end of the toys' relationship with their boy, Andy. He's grown up, he's leaving for college, and he has to decide whether to take them along, put them in the attic, or throw them away. As for the toys, they're torn between their love for Andy and their need to be played with, and so they make the hard choice to leave for a daycare center full of new children. This of course is where things start to go very wrong.

The film is a love song to the difficulties of setting aside childish things without losing what is young within you. It, like everything else Pixar has made, is a celebration of imagination and family and exuberance and inexorable love. It's about that small but very bright corner of our hearts that has somehow remained uncorrupted by experience. And it is funny and thrilling and heartbreaking.

Quite a relief, seeing such a perfect end to the franchise that invented feature-length CGI-animated movies, because those toys deserved nothing less. And if I'm jealous of those daily paper critics who got to tell you all about it on Friday morning, that is nothing compared to the seething but smiling envy I felt toward the theater of cheering children I saw it with. They get to grow up with these movies, and then they get to see them again as adults. It's then that they'll realize what a gift stories like these are.

What's the downside? Well, the movie does get a touch bleak once or twice, dark enough that very little ones could get scared. Even those scenes are brimming with love, but bear it in mind.

And then there's the 3-D. Subtly used here, not in-your-face, which was refreshing ... until I realized that meant it was unnecessary. You won't miss anything if you see the flat version, except maybe the let-down headache.

But that's praising with faint damnation. It's a kids' movie that's smart enough not to play down to kids or fall back on cheap laughs. It contains actual wit and tragedy. If you don't get choked up at least once, you're a robot. Go see it, or I won't talk to you.



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