There's only one possible place to start this week, and that's with the release of the extraordinary final instalment in the Toy Story saga. Let me take you back for a moment to 1995: Colin Firth is winning ladies' hearts as Mr Darcy, Robbie Williams is breaking them by leaving Take That, and Sony are taking the world by storm with the release of the PlayStation. And a little known animation studio by the name of Pixar team up with Disney to release Toy Story, the first movie made entirely using computer-generated imagery. This 80-minute masterpiece was not only a big hit with the critics, but it went on to be a huge commercial success, spending 18 weeks in the movie charts, spawning an entirely new genre of film in the process.
The releases that have followed from Pixar, and it's main CGI competitor Dreamworks, have been some of the funniest, most entertaining, and most popular films in the intervening 15 years. From the early efforts like Antz and Shrek, to Pixar's mid noughties golden era of Finding Nemo and The Incredibles, or latter day greats like WALL-E and Up, they all owe a debt to the ground that was broken by Toy Story.
So for Toy Story 3, bringing the stories of Buzz, Woody, Jessie, the Potato Heads, and that pig thing to and end is quite a responsibility. Get the tone wrong and a 15 year, 2 film legacy could be ruined, get it right, and you've just completed one of the greatest film trilogies of all time. Thankfully Toy Story 3 comes in much, much closer to the latter; superbly written and beautifully animated, with a truly touching dénouement.
The story sees the toys' owner Andy all grown-up and setting off for college, leaving the toys in a rather uncertain situation. Expecting to be moved up to the attic, or worse in to the garbage, they actually end up being donated to the local Sunnyside Daycare centre. This could be paradise for a group of otherwise neglected toys, with a never-ending stream of playmates passing through, were it not for the machinations of a sinister old bear called Lots-o-Huggin. It is left to Woody, after an initial solo-escape attempt to return and lead the whole gang on a daring mission to escape Sunnyside and return to the family home where they belong.
Apart from Toy Story though, Christmas preparations are in full flow now, and those hard-working stand up guys are at it again. This week take your pick from:
- Lee Mack - Going Out Live
- Dara O Briain - This Is the Show
- Bill Bailey Live: Dandelion Mind
- Kevin Bridges - The Story So Far...Live in Glasgow
- Ricky Gervais Live IV - Science
- Sean Lock - Lockipedia Live
- Tim Vine - Punslinger Live
- Al Murray - Barrel of Fun
Phew...there's more but I'm losing the will to go on. Me, I think I'd go for Sean Lock and Tim Vine for a good evening laughing on the sofa, but honourable mentions go to the ingenious Bill Bailey, and Dara O'Brien as well.
Meanwhile on Blu-ray for the first time is Dario Argento's classic horror Deep Red (Profondo Rosso), which joins the even better Suspiria released on Blu-ray earlier this year, get them both for the horror fan in your family