There can be few feature film productions companies as consistent as Pixar. Even their weakest of offerings – by popular consensus their 2006 release Cars – is, by the standards of the wider genre, a delightfully entertaining family film. Indeed, in attempting to analyse the latest offering from the Emeryville-based studio, one risks sounding like a broken record. For if there's anything wrong with Pixar's curious chemistry, critics and audiences alike have yet to identify it.
Instead, the argument isn't whether the latest Pixar release is any good – it's fairly safe to assume it is – but rather whether the latest Pixar release is their best. And that's an argument with no answer, for every person who's seen more than one Pixar film will have a different preference.
The most pertinent thing to report about Toy Story 3, then, is that it will find itself comfortably within the confines of that conversation for years to come. When Toy Story 2 followed the much-loved original in 1999 it ratcheted up the emotion, the energy and the inventive humor of the first and did what every good sequel must: it made the return journey worthwhile. Some eleven years later, Toy Story 3 does just the same, albeit in totally different ways, and in that strange contradiction delivers a film to enhance the experience of its two predecessors.