Michael Arndt: ‘Sunshine’ scribe tackles ‘Story’

Comedy Impact Report 2010: Animation Sensations

Those Pixar guys sure know how to spot talent. “Toy Story” godfather John Lasseter and director Lee Unkrich tapped Michael Arndt to write “Toy Story 3” even before the scribe became one of the hottest comedy writers in Hollywood for his acclaimed “Little Miss Sunshine” screenplay, which earned Arndt Oscar, BAFTA and Independent Spirit wins.

Arndt’s poignant, witty take on the franchise (which picks up as Andy is heading off to college and must decide which one of his toys to bring along) helped the toon studio deliver the goods and exceed all expectations, both artistic and commercial. The result? Another record-breaker for Pixar. The toon’s worldwide haul stands at $1.063 billion — just $4 million shy of becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time.

“It was very important to me that we didn’t make a film that just felt like another sequel,” says Unkrich. “I wanted it to be of a piece with the first two, and Michael did it brilliantly, with just the right touch.” The low-key writer, who reportedly quit his longtime job as assistant to Matthew Broderick in order to finish his “Little Miss Sunshine” screenplay, now has his pick of Hollywood projects, but looks certain to reteam with Pixar.