Toy Story (1995): United States – directed by John Lasseter
Rated G by the MPAA – contains talking toys
I was quite excited when I saw that Disney was rereleasing both Toy Story 1 and 2 in theaters for two weeks. The fact that they were being displayed in 3-D didn’t really bother me. Instead, it ensured that my first 3-D feature films would be quality movies.
First, a word on the 3-D aspect of the films. Then I’ll review the first movie here and the second one tomorrow. I was surprisingly impressed by the 3-D. I had seen so many mixed to negative reviews of it, but I didn’t think it was all that bad. It had a couple drawbacks, primarily that some of the detail was lost. A few colors also lost their vibrancy, but I didn’t find this to be as big a problem as others have noted.
For these two movies, at least, the 3-D wasn’t the whole point of the movie. It was nice that the movies had already been made without relying on 3-D, and this was just a new skin in which to view them. I thought it worked quite well, adding another dimensional layer to everything, including the credits. It was almost like watching a moving diorama. There were only a few times when it was eye-popping; the rest of the time it just felt like a different way to experience the film. I appreciated this, since the movies are good enough to stand up on their own.
On to the movies themselves. Toy Story, as well as being an important landmark in movie-making and the first building block of Pixar’s impressive resume, is quite a fantastic little movie. It was evident watching it again how much time and effort Pixar puts into making each movie as perfect as possible.
Since you are probably already familiar with the plot and characters, I will only briefly summarize. Sheriff Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) is the favorite toy of young Andy. Terror strikes the hearts of all the toys, though, when they discover that Andy’s birthday party is coming up. Each one is afraid they will be replaced by a newer and better toy. Woody’s fears are realized when Buzz Lightyear (voice of Tim Allen) lands on Andy’s bed, taking over the position of honor and respect. As the adventure progresses both Woody and Buzz learn a lot about themselves and their respective places in Andy’s world.
A few things stuck out to me watching Toy Story again. I was first impressed with how perfect all the voice acting was. Everyone was perfectly cast, and with such a talented ensemble each actor managed to distinguish themselves, from Don Rickles and Jim Varney to R. Lee Ermey. I was also impressed with how tight and focused the story is. The plot is neatly wrapped together, and, while not overly complex, hardly contains anything that isn’t essential. More movies need to fit that much into 81 minutes.
The primary factor, though, that makes this such a great movie is the depth of emotion present. The movie explores such complex themes as the fear of rejection. Woody is not your typical hero; he’s sometimes a complete jerk, but it’s because worried about being rejected and discarded. Buzz contemplates his role in the world, and even his very existence. These themes add a level of integrity to the movie that adults will be able to appreciate more than kids.
There’s still plenty for the children, though, with everything from silly slapstick to sight gags. All things considered, Toy Story has something for just about everyone, and is smartly made. It looks great, even for being a CG dinosaur by today’s standards, and is wonderfully directed and acted. It was groundbreaking for its day and still manages to impress, even though Pixar keeps upping their own level of excellence with nearly every film they make. It was great fun watching Toy Story on the big screen, and in 3-D, and I will be excited to see what Toy Story 3 has to offer.