Posted on June 21, 2018
Toy Story (1995)
Toy Story is a computer-animated film directed by John Lasseter that stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. This adventure/comedy film follows the secret lives of toys, which come to life when humans are not around.
This was the first fully computer-animated film and launched the success of Pixar Animation Studios.
The Story (SPOILERS)
The film focuses on a world where toys are alive and sentient. Toys pretend to be lifeless when humans are present, making it a global secret.
A group of toys are owned by a six-year-old boy named Andy. They are caught off-guard when his birthday party is moved up by a week. Andy’s mother is preparing to move the following week, so they are throwing it early.
The toys are led by Andy’s favorite toy, a pull-string cowboy doll named Woody. The other toys include Bo Peep, Mr. Potato Head, Rex (a dinosaur), Hamm (a piggy bank), and Slinky Dog.
Woody sends a team of green army men to spy on the party, reporting the results to the others with baby monitors. The party appears to end with none of them being replaced, but Andy’s mom reveals a surprise gift – a Buzz Lightyear action figure.
Believing himself to be his character (space ranger Buzz Lightyear), Buzz impresses the other toys with his electronic features. Andy starts replacing his love of cowboys with space adventures, leaving Woody forgotten and jealous.
Andy’s mother allows him to bring one toy to an evening trip to a restaurant, Pizza Planet. Fearing Andy will choose Buzz, Woody attempts to trap Buzz behind a desk. Woody accidentally ends up knocking him out a window, leading the other toys to accuse Woody of murder.
Before they can capture him, Andy (unable to find Buzz) takes Woody and leaves for Pizza Planet. When the family stops for gas, Woody finds that Buzz hitched a ride with the car. The two fight and fall out of the car, only for the family to leave without them.
They manage to make their way to Pizza Planet by stowing away on a pizza delivery truck. Buzz gets them stuck in a crane game, believing it to be a rocket. Andy’s demented neighbor, Sid Phillips manages to win them both with the claw.
Woody attempts to escape from Sid’s house, but to no avail. Buzz realizes that he is a toy after watching a Buzz Lightyear advertisement and falls from the stairs attempting to fly.
Sid plans to launch Buzz on a firework rocket, but his plans are delayed by rain. Woody and Buzz discuss how being just a toy is okay and reconcile their differences.
The next morning, Woody and Sid’s terrifying toys attempt to rescue Buzz. They traumatize Sid into no longer abusing toys by coming to life in front of him, leading him to run away screaming in horror.
Woody and Buzz then find Andy and his family driving away in a moving van. The duo try to make it onto the truck, but Sid’s dog chases after them.
Woody ignites the rocket on Buzz’s back and they soar into the air at immense speed. Buzz opens his wings and they fly safely into a box in the car, right next to Andy.
On Christmas Day, Woody and Buzz prepare for new toy arrivals. One of the toys ends up being a “Mrs Potato Head”, surprising Mr Potato Head.
As Woody jokingly asks what might be worse than Buzz, they discover Andy’s new gift is a puppy. The film ends with the two nervously smiling.
Toy Story is excellent. I’m certain that computer-animated films would not be anywhere near as numerous if this film didn’t succeed. After the film’s success, Pixar created multiple amazing sequels and other fantastic projects.
While not perfect, the surprisingly dark humor and solid pacing lend to an extremely memorable film. The voice actors do an incredible job, giving depth and gravitas to (frankly) childish designs. Their portrayals are well-rounded and almost impossible to re-imagine.
The animation is becoming quickly dated. Several of the textures are laughable, some of the animation is a bit stilted, and most of the humans look ridiculous. There are a few scenes where the technology simply wasn’t there (the dog being a major one).
My complaints are just minor flaws though. The soundtrack is still just as catchy, the premise is still fun, and the designs still hold amazing weight.
I highly recommend giving this a watch, even if you’ve already seen it. A fresh look really does help contextualize how seminal this film is.