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Toy Story

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Toy Story

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen
Director: John Lasseter
Rated: G
RunTime: 80 Minutes
Release Date: November 1995
Genres: Animation, Comedy, Family, Kids

*Also starring: Laurie Metcalf, Wallace Shawn, John Morris, R. Lee Ermey, John Ratzenberger, Erik von Detten, Jim Varney, Don Rickles

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1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
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Review by Steve Rhodes
4 stars out of 4

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 event.

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 for sure."

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

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