After watching Cars this morning and being disappointed, I thought I’d go back to where it all began and watch Toy Story. In Andy’s room, top toy Woody (Tom Hanks) is head honcho and garners the love and respect of his fellow toys with prime place on Andy’s bed. Woody’s world is upset though when Andy gets a new Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) for his birthday. Woody finds himself forgotten by Andy and plots to get rid of Buzz. Upon the realisation that what he has done is wrong, Woody sets out to rescue Buzz and bring him back to Andy’s room where they both belong while trying to avoid Andy’s toy murdering next door neighbour Sid in the process.
I have seen this film numerous times, until today the most recently being in 3D (which didn’t improve it). It was the first entirely computer animated feature film ever and spawned the now industry standard GCI cartoon. The animation remains very good but lacks the detail of the latest films. The characters also have a noticeable shine to them which is most apparent in the human characters. Nonetheless, the film’s animation and design stand up well after 17 years of frantic technological advancement.
What stands the test of time even more successfully though are the wonderful characters and story. The film uses a mixture of toys which are recognisable to young and old and introduces its own to the story. Each toy is given a neat character which works without exception. Of course Little Bow Peep is a sexy blonde bombshell and why wouldn’t Mr. Potato Head be looking for a Mrs. Potato Head? Great care and attention has been given to each toy to give them a distinct and believable personality. Even after at least six or seven viewings I still find myself gripped by the story and find myself urging Buzz and Woody to get back to the safety of Andy’s arms. It is a lovely idea that is beautifully executed.
The film is fully of subtle comedy and details, some of which I only noticed on my latest viewing. Towards the beginning of the film, Woody is stood in front of a book case on which are books with titles that refer to Pixar’s earlier shorts such as Tin Toy and Red’s Dream. There is even a book called Ant & Bee go on vacation which seems like a Tarantinoesque nod to Pixar’s second feature, A Bug’s Life. The film is littered with subtle nuances and comedic touches which never fail to impress and are bold for a debut film.
The script is fantastic and features clever word play to go along with the tremendous story and characters. It is smart and witty which helps the film appeal to both children and adults alike. I first saw the film when I was around ten and each time I see it I seem to appreciate it in different ways. Along with the funny script there are plenty of visual gags which will keep everyone entertained.
The film isn’t afraid to deal with more adult themes than its Disney predecessors. At the beginning of the film, Buzz doesn’t realise that he is a toy (which is very funny), but when he does he spirals into depression and no longer cares if he lives or dies. Depression isn’t the sort of thing you’d find in your average children’s film. It is also very dark in places. This is particularly the case when Woody and Buzz end up in Sid’s room. The film takes on a horror feel as the central characters are confronted with the sight of mangled and disfigured toys. Another adult theme is that of rejection and fear of being outdated. When Buzz arrives on the scene with his shiny plastic body and electric buttons, Woody feels unwanted and outdated. This could be seen as a comment on how parents themselves feel as their children grow and no longer need them as much. This theme was explored in greater detail and with emotional results in Toy Story 3.
Toy Story is a cinematic classic and will go down in history as one of the greatest animated films of all time. It appeals to people of all ages and has an endearing and timeless story. It will still be shown to the grandchildren of the first children to watch it back in 1995 and is responsible for changing the shape of animated films forever.