What is the great human fear? I think it is the fear of being replaced or forgotten by those we love (or even the world at large). I propose to you that is the reason why Toy Story is such a great movie. Yes it’s a game changer in the world of animation and yes it introduced the world to 2 of the most delightful characters in movie history but at it’s core is a message that we can all relate too.
Toy Story is of course Pixar’s first animated feature film and the first CG film from any studio. After getting Oscar recognition for Tin Toy the idea of a lost toy started with John Lasseter and crew and they were able to convince Disney to sponsor their project. It took them 5 years to make and what they came up with is one of the most likable entertaining animated films ever made.
I asked on facebook and twitter- Any thoughts on Toy Story 1? What impact did it have on you? Do you love it? What do your kids think of it?
I loved it as a kid. I had a toy Woody and a toy Buzz who I played with a lot. I’m actually the exact same age Andy was in Toy Story 1 and 3, and I went to see Toy Story 3 on my 18th birthday the summer before I went away to college. Suffice it to say, many feels were had.
I LOVE Toy Story. My 4-year-old loves it as well. I try to only get him hooked on movies that I don’t mind listening to thousands of times over again! Hahaha.
kids (ages 5-9) love it. Buzz lightyear is still a hero, even though the movie came out a decade before the oldest was born
I loved it! Wish I was having lunch at Pizza Planet.
Like a majority of Pixar’s films, it’s a masterpiece. The impact it had on me? Teaching me how to do lean storytelling right
I particularly like that last sentiment. Toy Story is such tight storytelling.
The beginning is all to build up the introduction of Buzz. We see Woody as basically the CEO of the bedroom. Everyone has their job and he is comfortable in his spot as the leader. They even have a little staff meeting.
But suddenly this new seemingly better version of Woody comes along and just like any kid would do Andy is super excited; thereby quickly unraveling Woody’s world. The posters are gone, the old west town cardboard is gone and a spaceship has replaced it and finally Woody’s spot is now a Buzz comforter and sheets. At least for that moment Woody has been replaced.
Woody then experiences two of the most deadly sins but we can all relate too- envy and jealousy. He’s envious of what Buzz has that appeals to Andy and the other toys and he is jealous of all that Buzz has taken away from him.
He handles these emotions sometimes being angry, sarcastic, sad, and depressed but it is always a response that at least I relate too when I’ve been faced with similar situations. We are also always given bits of joyous comic relief like the famous flying sequence.
The other thing that is so brilliant in the Buzz and Woody relationship is they are seeing the same things and yet in totally different worlds. Buzz is a space ranger and is seeing everything through those goggles. Woody is a toy and looking from his viewpoint. How often in life does conflict come from 2 worldviews crashing into each other like that? Again another reason why so many children and adults relate to Toy Story and love it.
Once Buzz and Woody get lost the story becomes a real journey. This is perhaps one of my favorite scenes in all of animation. ‘You are a toy!’ Again it’s those two universes coming into conflict.
The design in these sequences is just beautiful. The stars at the gas station and the fun of Pizza Planet. I agree with Terry I wish I was having lunch at Pizza Planet.
Then the story moves to our villain Sid who is actually a really creative kid in a lot of ways. He isn’t just playing but creating; however, in the world of the movie he is basically an evil mad scientist who is murdering toys. It totally works within the world of the movie.
The brilliance of the sequences at Sid’s house is Buzz is not Woody’s competition any more but his only ally. It’s kind of like you may hate a person in your sorority but if it is only the two of you walking down a scary street all the sudden you feel this bond. Group dynamics work that way! Buzz also learns that Woody is right he is just a toy. Surely we can all relate to that moment where we realize we are very small insignificant person in the grand scheme of things. That’s what makes this scene so powerful.
Randy Newman’s music is wonderful for especially the Toy Story movies. He has a modern feel mixed with a Great American Songbook style. It describes what’s going on without being too literal, poetic while still feeling marketable which is perfect for a movie about toys. It just works.
As tension builds Buzz is tied to the rocket and Woody has to think of a way to save his once enemy now friend. He realizes these creatures he once feared are really wonderful (another good lesson for kids) and they stage a little lesson for Sid.
But that’s not the end. No they have to get to the moving truck before Andy leaves. This last segment is so great both plot, animation-wise and everything else. It is such a triumphant moment for Buzz when he realizes he can save the day for the people in his life (again a very relatable emotion).
All the voicecasting is great especially of course Tom Hanks and Tim Allen who are just perfect for the roles. Who would have thought Tim Allen when he was on Home Improvement would make a great space ranger toy but it works. Tom Hanks is more of an obvious choice but his experience in both comedy and drama make him the right pick for the part. All the side characters are completely lovely with Potato Head Don Rickles probably being my favorite. John Ratzenberg is great as Ham. Annie Potts as Bo Peep and Jim Varney as Slinky Dog are all great.
They were so clever too with details like watching the Mr Spell or the Etch-o-sketch for little jokes. It’s also brilliant to have a dinosaur that should be fierce be neurotic. Wallace Shawn is terrific as Rex. They all have accepted their place like in a business and work together well. Even when they are ostracizing Woody it makes sense from their point of view.
Anyway, what more is there to say but Toy Story is not just the first CG animated film but it is one of the best. The story taps into themes we can all relate too and taps into universal emotions. It also gives us some of the best characters ever in film. The adventure is so much fun and it still looks great today. I love it. If it was the only Pixar film I would still be singing their praises.
Overall Grade- A+ (you’ll see that a lot in these Pixar. It’s just the way I feel).
Toy Story was so well loved that the academy gave it an honorary award for special achievement and I think that was the catalyst for the Best Animated Feature Film category, so great films like Toy Story wouldn’t be ignored in the future or need special awards. It’s really touching to hear John Lasseter talk about the films creation and team.