Children will enjoy a new take on the irresistible idea of toys coming to life. Adults will marvel at a witty script and deftly defined characters, and the overall conceptual sophistication. So ingenious in concept, design and execution that you could watch it on a postage stamp-sized screen and still be engulfed by its charm !!
Toy Story is about the ‘secret life of toys’ when people are not around. When Buzz Lightyear, a space-ranger, takes Woody’s place as Andy’s favorite toy. But, when the toys are separated from their home, a truce is formed between them all in an effort to journey home.
Disney’s 1995 animated extravaganza also came with a gimmick: this was the first ever full-length computer animated feature. The technology developed while creating the movie paved way for a whole new era of animation.
The movie was a joint venture between Disney and Pixar, a young company—then chaired by Steve Jobs—that had been recruited by the animation giant for its video capabilities. Reflecting on the experience 20 years later, you realize that the young production studio was up against the wall : one project’s failure would likely mean the end of the three-movie contract, and the demise of Pixar studios.
The entire company was bet upon the production team figuring this out…
Spoiler alert : it was a good bet !! The storytelling and technology of Pixar still rests upon the foundation Toy Story built. By the time the Toy Story credits started rolling that first day, the movies would never be the same.
Toy Story created a universe out of a couple of kid’s bedrooms, a gas station, and a stretch of suburban highway. Its heroes are toys, which come to life when nobody is watching. Its conflict is between an old-fashioned cowboy who has always been a little boy’s favorite toy, and the new space ranger who may replace him. The villain is the mean kid next door who takes toys apart and puts them back together again in macabre combinations. And the result is a visionary roller-coaster ride of a movie…
Most importantly, the story told in Toy Story is timeless. Toy Story expertly articulated fundamental values of friendship and acceptance of others. As intended, none of the characters are flawless heroes or underdeveloped villains. Ironically, they are more ‘human’ than actual human characters in other films.
Case in point being the real poignancy felt later in the film when Buzz sees a TV commercial for himself, and realizes he’s only a toy. His belief in his own superpowers, notably the ability to fly, is so complete that the very innocence of his self-delusion becomes oddly charming.
The beauty of Toy Story is the way it expresses the essence of child’s play — that pretending is the art of dreaming when you’re wide awake. The lessons that can be derived from Toy Story are ones that we, child or adult, can apply to our everyday lives.
Disney LOVES musicals and during production, came to Pixar with a few songs they thought should be included.
Pixar shut that idea down immediately… Thank God !!
Although Disney was disappointed at the time, the movie turned out totally awesome with just Randy Newman’s contribution :
That’s all before you consider the animation. Excepting some purposefully fake looking humans, no detail has been spared, from the kiss-curl on Buzz’s chin down to the rain water meandering down the outside of a window. The result proves so breathtaking that two-dimensional cartoon fare will never seem the same again. Which offers further, glorious proof that movies aimed at junior cinemagoers are sometimes miles better than those directed at their adult counterparts.
Since this was such a big technical feat — to produce the first fully computer-animated film — the Pixar team wasn’t sure which they should focus on more; the story or the tech. Although Disney had hired them because of their notable tech achievements, Pixar didn’t want to deliver a great animation with a poorly planned plot.
Toy Story pops off the screen with a vibrancy that’s totally unlike traditional hand-painted animation. This first flight into feature-film making, a glimpse of animation’s future, is remarkably seamless. Pixar resisted the temptation to merely show off the computer’s limitless spatial freedom. Toy Story is a marvel because it harnesses its flashy technology to a very human wit, rich characters and a perception no computer could think of : that toys, indeed, are us.
It was the film that elevated the studio to where they are today, formed an unparalleled relationship between Pixar and Disney, and transformed the way we experience animation.
Just perfect. Script, character, animation… this manages to break free of the yoke of ‘children’s movie’ to simply be one of the best movies of the 90’s… !!
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