The story of two partners discovering what they're made of.
Toy Story is a 1995 animated adventure film directed by John Lasseter, written by Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, and Alec Sokolow, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios, and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures. The film stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. It was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song. It did not win any of those. The film launched the Toy Story series. It was followed by Toy Story 2. It has been selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.
"To infinity and beyond!" -Buzz Lightyear
Sheriff Woody is a toy. He is the favorite toy of his owner, Andy Davis. Woody is the leader of Andy's toys...until Andy gets the cool, new Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger toy. Woody is overcome with jealousy as Buzz becomes the favorite and shows off for the other toys. The worst part is this: Buzz doesn't know that he is a toy. When Woody and Buzz are lost, they learn to become one another's friends. This all comes to matter when they are found by Andy's insane neighbor and toy torturer, Sid Phillips.
There are really a ton of great things about this movie. We'll start from the characters. This is, obviously, the first Toy Story and the first Disney/Pixar movie. We get an introduction to Woody, who is one of the most popular and best animated characters of all time. Tom Hanks as Woody is perfect, and this is probably the movie that we get the most character development from him. He has a fantastic character arc in this movie alone, even though his arc throughout the entire series is near perfect. Buzz Lightyear is another classic character. He is probably at his funniest in this movie. The somewhat fish out of water comedy that we get when Buzz acts like a real space ranger is classic. Even though Buzz isn't the usual, confident, charming self that he is in the other four movies, he is still a very funny and likable character in this film. Even the supporting characters are memorable and fantastic. Whether it's Rex, Slinky Dog, Bo Peep, Mr. Potato Head, or Hamm, they are all voiced to perfection and have memorable moments. We even have ourselves one of Pixar's better villains in Sid. He's a very interesting character, because he doesn't know that what he's doing is bad, since he isn't aware that the toys are alive.
The story isn't really anything too new, but the writers obviously put their own uniquie spin on it by having it be two toys that are lost instead of people. Woody and Buzz have a great and hilarious relationship that you love to see on the screen, and that makes the story so much more fun. That is really what it the movie is examining. The main plot follows Woody and Buzz being lost and trying to find their way back to Andy, and, in the process, finding themselves in Sid's clutches. It's perfect for this movie because it's a kids movie, so it stays simple for the kids, but it also can be fun to watch as a young or actual adult, because of the relationship between Woody and Buzz. The audience can relate to Woody's situation, because everyone has had the better or younger person come in and take the spotlight over them. A relatable and fun story contributes to the greatness of this movie.
It is really surprising how many great actors the crew was able to get, even in minor roles. Aladdin had come out only three years earlier, and before Robin Williams was cast as The Genie, no famous actors ever voiced animated roles. Then Toy Story pulled out Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Wallace Shawn, Don Rickles, and Annie Potts. Tom Hanks is obviously one of the best actors to ever be put on the silver screen. He absolutely nails this role and breathes a kind of life into Woody that couldn't have been done by anyone else. He carries a leadership as this cowboy's voice that I buy into every time Woody is on screen. Tom Hanks is one of the most prolific actors in the world, but I originally knew him as Sheriff Woody, and will always recognize him as that. Tim Allen has the perfect voice for Buzz. It has a robotic feeling, which is a compliment, because that is how Buzz is supposed to feel. He sounds like a soldier with the way that he talks, and Allen's commanding and deep voice is perfect for Buzz. My other favorite voice is Wallace Shawn as Rex. His high voice is so funny, as Rex is, according to Andy, the most feared dinosaur on the planet.
The script is very clever. The movie has some charming and some funny moments by every character in the cast. One of my favorite lines occurs when Buzz has just arrived in Andy's room. He claims that he is a space ranger and that he can fly. Woody, who at this point dislikes Buzz, is skeptical and tells him to show the toys that. Buzz has this crazy series of flips and jumps that look planned and cool, even though it isn't planned or flying. The toys go ballistic and fall in love with Buzz, except for Woody. Woody claims "That wasn't flying! That was falling...with style.". It is absolutely hilarious and sums up the relationship between Woody and Buzz in this film. There are other instances where we get scenes that are generously written or cleverly scripted, with charisma from each character.
The one problem that I have with this near perfect movie is the animation. It isn't exactly bad, but it is dated. The toys look fine, but there are times when it looks like a cut scene from a video game versus a scene from an animated movie. There are a couple times when Woody flails his arms and it doesn't look crisp. The scene when Buzz arrives in Andy's room and Woody sees him for the first time looks unnatural. Woody's emotion changes too quickly to be believable, and that isn't the only time it happens. The emotions that the toys display are not great. Their faces lack colorful shades, mostly being just pale with wide eyes. Like I said, it isn't bad, but it definitely isn't the best. However, the humans look horrendous. They can barely put on any different emotions, and their faces look creepily plastic. Pixar itself has said that humans were hard to animate and that they looked like plastic, and that was part of the reason that the producers decided to make a movie about plastic characters.
Toy Story is undeniably a classic and a fantastic movie. A great voice cast and a compelling story overshadows the iffy animation, which most viewers should be able to overlook and just enjoy these characters and this movie.
I will give it a Sweet rating. Age range is 4+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 9/10
Directed by John Lasseter
Rated G for mildly scary elements
Released on November 22, 1995
1 hour and 21 minutes
Tom Hanks as Sheriff Woody
Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear
Jim Varney as Slinky Dog
Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head
Wallace Shawn as Rex
Erik von Detten as Sid Phillips
Annie Potts as Little Bo Peep
John Ratzenberger as Hamm
John Morris as Andy Davis