TOY STORY is an absolutely wonderful movie for both kids and
adults. It stretches your mind creatively to look at inanimate objects
with a new respect, and it dazzles your senses with a wonderful new art
form, the full length computer generated movie that is a cross between
a Disney cartoon and a live action film. Moreover, in a year with some
quite imaginative kids movies (THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD and THE
SECRET OF ROAN INISH being the second and third best of 1995), this one
stands head and shoulders above all of the rest.
TOY STORY has some good voices: Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, Tom
Hanks as Woody, Laurie Metcalf as Mrs. Davis, John Morris as Andy,
Annie Potts as Bo Peep, John Ratzenberger as Hamm, Don Rickles as Mr.
Potato Head, Wallace Shawn as Rex, Jim Varney as Slinky and Erik Von
Detten as Sid, but the voices are not what make the show as in some
animated movies, e. g., Robin William in ALADDIN. TOY STORY is special
because of the story itself and because of the computer generated
animation that is nothing less than phenomenal. The computer work
stands alone as a major new contribution to the magic of movies. Yes,
this has been done before perhaps, but not to this scale and degree of
sophistication. Pixar (and Disney) have a major hit on their hands. I
look forward to many more magical pictures from this creative team.
As the story unfolds we find the toys in Andy's room having their
morning staff meeting chaired by their leader Woody. Woody holds this
elevated position by virtue of being Andy's favorite toy. Woody
announces that, "Tuesday's plastic corrosion awareness meeting was a
big success." The staff meeting is broken up by Andy's birthday party.
The tension surrounds what toys Andy will get. Although Mr. Potato
Head is hoping for a Mrs. Potato Head, most toys are dreading the
Woody sends out toy soldiers with a Fisher Price monitor to bug
Andy's party. The walk of the toy soldiers is great. They have to
shuffle along. Remember that cheap toy soldiers have their feet stuck
on a single strip of plastic which makes sneaking up on the enemy
extremely difficult. The old toys wait in Andy's room listening to the
monitor with the dread that people listened to reports of World War II
on their radios. This could mean their demise too, and as Hamm, the
piggy bank, puts it, "Yes sir, we're next month's garage sale fodder
It is at the birthday party that Andy gets Buzz Lightyear. Unlike
the other toys, poor Buzz thinks he actually is a spaceman. He keeps
communicating with his command center since he is afterall on a
critical intergalactic mission. The toys fall in love with him, and
Woody drops out of favor with Andy. Woody laments, "What chance does a
toy like me have against a Buzz Lightyear action figure?" The majority
of the movie is about the conflicts between Woody and Buzz.
There are excellent lessons taught to kids along the way. The
story is full of demonstrations of good moral values as well as the
illustration of what leading an evil life like that of the neighborhood
bad kid, Sid, can get you. Sid has a room full of "cannibal toys".
Whether or not Sid will get Woody and Buzz and then blow them to
smithereens is the other highlight of the show. I will not give any of
this away. The ending is perfect too. See it all yourself.
The toys are hyper-realistic, but the people in the movie are
drawn more cartoon characterish. My wife, Sally, said that she thought
this was to make the point that it is the toys in the story that are
real more than the people. I suspect she is right. The colors of the
toys have a luminescence that I have not seen before on the screen.
The accuracy of the toys is reminiscent of the Vermeer and the other
great Dutch painters of the seventeenth century, absolute devotion to
the small details and to lighting effects. The toys in the good boy,
Andy's, room are perfect, but the ones in the evil Sid's room are pure
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS style.
The wonderful script (Joel Cohen, John Lasseter, Alex Sokolow,
Andrew Stanton, and Joss Whedon) uses dialog to make the toys come
alive and yet be extremely funny. Rex, the dinosaur, introduces
himself to Buzz saying, "I'm from Mattel. Well, actually I'm from a
smaller company that was purchased by Mattel in a leveraged buyout." I
hope the writers win a lot of awards.
TOY STORY runs a fast and extremely well paced 1:17. I posit no
one will get bored during this movie. It is rated G but I should warn
people that young viewers may get scared by Sid and his toys. This is
not overdone, but I did hear several very young (age 2?) kids screaming
at the top of their lungs at a couple of spots in the show. Jeffrey (6
1/2) and his friends Allison (6 1/2) and Josh (4) went. They gave it
double thumbs up. Luckily our two families had more laps than kids so
that when the scary scenes came, all kids had a place to go. Perhaps
you should check your kid to lap ratio before you go. Jeffrey gets
angry at shows that scare him, but not this one. He took it in stride
as part of the movie going experience. His version of revisionist
history, by the way, claims that he actually gave the movie six thumbs
up rather than just two. I give the movie my strongest recommendation
and award it a full ****.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes