1995 - G - 81 Mins.
|Director: John Lasseter
|Producer: Ralph Guggenheim, Bonnie Arnold
|Written By: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Joe Ranft, Alec Sokolow, Joss Whedon, Joel Cohen, Alec
|Starring: voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Annie Potts, John Ratzenberger, Wallace Shawn
|Review by: John Ulmer
Children play with toys. It is a known fact. At one time or another, we all played with toys, whether they were action figures, dolls, little green soldiers, etc… But what if toys were real? What if they could talk?
Pixar and Disney serve us this theory in what was the first full-length computer-animated film ever, “Toy Story,” chronicling the events in the life of a cowboy doll, Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks).
Woody is the favorite toy of his owner, a small child named Andy. Andy brings Woody everywhere, and cherishes him, as we see in the beginning of the film. However, this all changes on Andy’s birthday when Andy gets a new toy: a Buzz Lightyear doll (voiced by Tim Allen). Woody is suddenly forgotten, left with the rest of his friends: Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Slinky Dog (Jim Varney, better known as Ernest) and Ham (see if you can guess the voice of this one? I’ll give you a hint: “Cheers”).
But after Buzz accidentally gets knocked out an upstairs window, Woody is the prime suspect. Now, after Woody and Buzz end up next door, in toy killer Sid’s house, Woody must prove his innocence by getting both Buzz and him back to Andy’s house safely.
“Toy Story” builds on an element we all shrug off carelessly and thoughtlessly. Much like they did last year with monsters under the bed, Pixar took the theory of live toys to a new level in “Toy Story,” filling our minds with endless possibilities.
What Pixar does is a strange thing. It doesn’t just try to expand our mind, but also out world. I respect and enjoy that. In “Monsters, Inc.,” Pixar managed to preach to us “What if monsters under the bed are real, and what if they have a world much like ours, and have feelings like humans,” while never forgetting the equally important formula of humor. Much is the same with their earlier film “Toy Story.” What if those wooden and plastic toys we all played with as kids are real? What if they have feelings, emotions, voices, and human qualities? An interesting idea by itself, but when mixed with a wicked sense of humor and reality, you’ve got yourself one of the best films ever.
Tom Hanks is perfect as Woody. Pixar must have modeled the doll’s expressions and movements after Hanks, because after a while, I feel like I AM watching Hanks on screen, and NOT a computer-generated image. When you get to the point of not being able to tell animation from reality, you know that the voices are good.
The same goes for Tim Allen, though the body gestures were most likely not modeled after Allen’s physical expressions (Buzz is a short, pot-bellied toy).
The rest of the cast is excellent, all very believable and entertaining. You begin to love each character for their distinguishing traits, and that is always refreshing.
I can safely say that I have not enjoyed animated films quite so much over the years as I have enjoyed Pixar films. The only film they made that I named forgettable was “A Bug’s Life,” which was in and of it not horrible, but lacking the sense of humor the other Pixar films have and had.
Pixar makes very refreshing films. In an era of cheap, made-for-video Disney sequels, rip-off cartoons and television babysitters (i.e. “The Jungle Book 2), Pixar holds true to the values that made Disney films so entertaining back in the 30’s-60’s: Respect for the audience’s intelligence, humor, provocative ideas to base the film upon, and respect for the audience (not the exact same thing as the first element), all of which are forgotten in this day and age of money-makers. I respect Pixar very much, and after hearing how little Disney does in helping with their films, I feel that Disney is just trying to cash in on their ideas by having their name branded on the posters for Pixar films. Shame on you, Disney. Proof that Disney has no respect for audiences is the fact that they will not let another sequel be made – something that fans like me would rather have than something like “Finding Nemo.”
“Toy Story” 1 & 2 are both on my “favorite films” list. It may sound stupid, but if I made up a top 250 list like IMDb.com, both of those films would be on there; so would “Monsters Inc.” After an unpromising trailer for Pixar’s upcoming film “Finding Nemo,” I think that after their licensing deal with Disney is disputed (they have to cough up five more ORIGINAL films – not sequels – by 2005), they should definitely try to make a “Toy Story 3.” I’ll be first in line for it, anyway.