A group of green toy soldiers begin to organize in preparation for the important raid they are about to participate in. Their commander, with a strong and aggressive voice, leads the way as they approach the intended location. They find a pot plant close to the area and decide to hide inside it. It is then that the commander uses the large walkie-talkie, carried by two of his men, to inform the cowboy on the other end that all is set. Woody, the leader of his owner Andy's toys, asks everyone to stay quiet and listen to the army commander. The location of the raid, it turns out, is the living room in which Andy's birthday is about to start. The toys tremble and shake throughout this dreadful ordeal, fearing the possibility of being replaced by a newer, shinier toy. However, Woody assures them all by proclaiming that “no toy will be replaced” and that “Andy loves us all.” We soon discover, however, that this is not the case at all. Leaving it as the final surprise present, Andy's mom shocks him by gifting him the newest toy in the market, a brand-spanking new Buzz Lightyear! It is this rivalry between Woody and Buzz that shapes and creates, in my eyes at least, the most groundbreaking animation picture in cinema history.
Toy Story, directed by John Lasseter, is a film that takes place in a world where toys could talk and have emotions, provided they are not under the watchful eye of their owners, us. The main driving force of the story, as previously mentioned, is the arrival of the new toy Buzz Lightyear into Andy's life and how this affects Woody and his place as Andy's favorite toy. The film made a large impact on the film industry when it was released in 1995 due to it being the first fully computer-animated feature film. Its studio, Pixar, would go on to dominate this genre for the next decade or so, proving that animated films can be as meaningful as live-action films, if not more so. Indeed, they could be credited, justifiably so, for being the pioneers of this unique genre.
The animation and level of craftsmanship that went into designing this excellent animated film deserve to be noticed and appreciated. The characters are vivid and “alive”, living and breathing in a believable world. Not just with Woody and Buzz, the design of the remaining characters is equally admirable. Characters such as Rex the Dinosaur, Mr. Potato Head, Slinky the Dog, and many more, create an ensemble cast of toys that is simply unforgettable. Of course, this is without forgetting Sid, one of my favorite Pixar villains ever. The facial expressions, the hand gestures and the body movement are fantastic details that work together to provide a magical feeling and a sense of astonishment throughout the film. There are specific scenes that highlight this perfectly, one of which that springs to mind involves Woody and Buzz at an arcade named Pizza Planet searching for Andy. Another is the epic final scene that involves one of the most exciting chase scenes I've ever seen. It is very clear that the level of animation in this debut picture from Pixar will be taught and discussed for generations to come.
However, even if the animation is top notch, it still needs an excellent story as well as superb voice acting in order to be able to be called a truly great film. Thankfully, that is the case here. With Tom Hanks and Tim Allen playing the voices of Woody and Buzz respectively, it was clear from the beginning that Pixar wanted this movie to be given the utmost attention in every department. Hanks and Allen are joined by talented actors including: Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Jim Varney (Slinky), Wallace Shawn (Rex), John Ratzenberger (Hamm), Annie Potts (Bo Peep), John Morris (Andy) and Erik von Detten (Sid). They all manage, in their own unique way, to provide the story more depth and feeling. It is these actors with their excellent voice acting that give the film an extra dimension that would otherwise have made this a very normal film. A scene that showcases this clearly is the one in which Woody, out of jealousy from Buzz's new-found popularity, devises a scheme that backfires spectacularly, resulting in the other toys demanding Woody's ouster from the group. To be honest, I would find it very hard to believe that any viewer who has seen this film would feel disappointed or let down by the exceptional voice acting and creative storyline and dialogue.
With memorable songs such as “Strange Things” and “You Got A Friend In Me”, Toy Story has successfully cemented its place in cinema history as one of the most memorable, exciting, joyous, imaginative, entertaining and brilliant motion pictures ever made. It is also great because it contains many life lessons that all of us would appreciate and learn from. I believe Buzz Lightyear summarizes these lessons perfectly by asking us all to go “to infinity and beyond!”
- Tom Hanks (as the voice of Woody)
- Tim Allen (as the voice of Buzz Lightyear)
- Don Rickles (as the voice of Mr. Potato Head)
- Jim Varney (as the voice of Slinky the Dog)
- Wallace Shawn (as the voice of Rex the Dinosaur)
- John Ratzenberger (as the voice of Hamm)
1 hour and 17 minutes
Animation / Adventure / Comedy