I can still remember all my favorite toys as a little kid. I had G. I. Joe, He Man, Army Men, Lincoln Logs, etc. My favorites were my Star Wars figures. I could play with them for hours. I would imagine that they were real and had adventures when I wasn’t at home. Oh, admit it. You did to. Now whether or not you thought about what was under Leia’s slave bikini …er…save that for another story.
As with most people, I grew up and my toys found new homes in the attic or in a yard sale. When 1995 rolled around, I was 21 years old and living the good life in college. This is when Toy Story debuted in theatres. I was drawn to this film. My inner child demanded I see this. I can safely say that Toy Story is to be thanked (or blamed if you are my wife) for the spawn of my second childhood. This tale of a boy and his toys had brought back a part of my childhood that had long faded into the background of my memory. Yet, as soon as the movie started, those long forgotten memories rushed to the foreground and demanded my full attention.
Toy Story was the first full length computer generated movie. It still is the best. Toy Story tells the tale of a boy and his toys. Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks) is Andy’s favorite toy and is the leaders of the plastic dwellers of Andy’s room. You see, I WAS right when I was a kid. Toys do live when we leave the room. As soon as Andy finishes playing, the toys magically come to life and my, what personalities do they have! Along with Woody, we have Slinky Dog (Varney), Mr. Potato Head (Rickles), Hamm (Ratzenberger), Rex (Shawn), Sarge (Ermey), and Bo Peep (Potts).
Andy’s birthday is early this year since Andy and his family are moving to a new house soon. Birthdays and Christmas are particularly traumatic to toys since their replacement might be the next gift opened. The lives of the toys, especially Woody, are changed by the last present at Andy’s birthday; Buzz Lightyear (Allen). Woody, once Andy’s favorite toy, has been replaced and he doesn’t like it. Buzz and Woody are almost polar opposites. Woody is a cowboy while Buzz is a Space Ranger. Woody has a pull string while Buzz has cool buttons that mutter space phrases. Due to several accidents that are partially the fault of Woody’s jealousy, Buzz and Woody are stranded far away from Andy’s room. The duo must put their differences aside and work together to get back to Andy’s house before the big move.
When Toy Story first hit theatres, it was nothing short of groundbreaking. The CGI was and still in a class by itself. The toys are rendered highly realistic. When you look at Woody, you don’t see a toy; you feel that he is alive. The adults in the movie, though, are more cartoon-ish in their creation. I believe this is planned to keep the focal point on the true stars of the movie, the toys.
CGI aside, all of us, besides maybe George Lucas, realizes that story and character development are the keys to an excellent movie. Special effects alone won’t make you fall in love with a movie. The story and characters in Toy Story are superior to most live action movies. That is what brought me back to my childhood.
The songs of Randy Newman blend perfectly with the story. Newman’s song, such as “You Got a Friend in Me” and “Strange Things" helps with the storytelling and keeps the movie from being bogged down with time consuming plot developments.
Now at the ripe old age of 29, I have two daughters who share my love of movies. Allie, age 4, considers Toy Story one of her “favorite movies”. This Dad now has an excuse to relive his childhood again and again. Many movies lose their luster over time. Toy Story just gets better with age.