Chris' Review of Toy Story
As a child, have you ever wondered at one point in your life what might happen in your room full of toys and dolls while you weren't in it? In Disney-Pixar's landmark 1995 computer animated feature Toy Story, we get that possible answer as the film is about toys that come to life while the owner is out of their room. In case you don't know why Toy Story is an important American film and why it's one of only two animated films to make the AFI's list of the 100 greatest films of all time, allow me to fill you in. It was the first full-length computer animated feature ever made and arguably the best in my opinion. Toy Story was so popular that it is solely responsible for Pixar's big streak of success with other computer animated features such as Up (2009), WALL-E (2008), and The Incredibles (2004). Enough said.
In Toy Story, a group of toys that belong to a young kid named Andy come to life while he's out of the room. They're all led by Andy's favorite toy, a cowboy doll named Woody (Tom Hanks). They've just learned that Andy and his family will be moving away to another neighborhood. Not only that, but his birthday party is being celebrated earlier than expected, which means new toys will be joining them for sure, much to the horror of the other toys. They're afraid that the new toys will be so cool that Andy will no longer want to play with them anymore. Despite this, Woody assures the other toys that everything will be alright and no one will be forgotten. That is until he discovers Andy's newest toy Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), a space ranger action figure who thinks he's the real space ranger that he's based on.
Woody basically becomes so jealous over how cool a toy he is that he tries to do whatever he can to become Andy's favorite toy again. When one of his attempts at getting noticed by Andy accidently goes too far (meaning Buzz gets transported out of the house), Woody tries to rescue him and re-earn the trust of his fellow toys. But through a series of circumstances, Woody gets lost as well right alongside Buzz and they are accidently found by Andy's next door neighbor, Sid. This is a problem for both of these toys since Sid really enjoys torturing and destroying toys. So now Woody and Buzz must get over their differences and work together to get out of Sid's house and back to Andy before he moves.
Basically, what we have here story wise is your typical buddy comedy in animated form. But in my opinion, it's the buddy comedy done right. I'm not saying it just because it's told through a new form of animation, but because the film handles this type of story in the most imaginative and least contrived way. In other words, the basic plot seems to play out naturally and comes off as if Pixar was inventing this type of plot for the first time. There are no plot devices that are forced to the point where it's painfully obvious, everything on screen works within the fabric of the story. The comedic bits, along with being humorous, are very well handled and are necessary contributions to the plot. I loved how in one scene when Woody talks to the toys in Andy's room from Sid's house, the other toys think that Woody murdered Buzz by the end of the scene. That scene and similar scenes were very funny and well done.
There's another crucial reason why the plot for this picture works as well as it does and that is the vocal cast itself. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are irreplaceable as Woody and Buzz, respectively, since they bring so much to the chemistry and dialogue between each other to the point where it's impossible to top them. They do a perfect enough job with what they bring into each of their roles that you couldn't picture hearing any other actors play these two characters. The same can also be said for the supporting cast as well, particularly Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head and Wallace Shawn as Rex. In other words, the actors do a convincing job at bringing each of their characters to life and putting so much personality into them that they help enhance the story further as good acting should be doing.
The way Pixar handles its characters in this movie is also worth noting. For example, even though Sid is having fun destroying toys and is considered evil by the toys, they don't necessarily make him the main villain. In other words, the characters created here aren't exactly clear cut heroes and villains, but they're simply individuals with different personalities. Woody isn't a bad guy because he technically gets Buzz and himself into trouble, he's simply afraid of being forgotten by Andy. That aspect about Woody makes us relate to him even more since we do learn from the mistakes that Woody makes over this misunderstanding. Buzz Lightyear makes for an enjoyable fish-out-of-water type character in that he strongly believes he's the real Buzz Lightyear to the point that being told that he's actually a toy would be nonsense in his mind. In other words, Pixar cares a great deal about its story and characters here.
As you can tell, Toy Story is simply much more than an innovative American film with its groundbreaking animation or even an entertaining family film. It's a film about characters that I'm sure most of us can relate to or identify with. It's a film for everybody to cherish for different reasons whether it be the animation, the humor, the story or the characters. I'll argue that it's still the finest film Pixar's produced yet. In a pinch, Toy Story is a film you should check out immediately if you haven't already.