Disney has done it again!
Last year they gave us the funny and heart-warming film The Santa Clause. This holiday season they bring out a true classic-to-be, Toy Story.
Toy Story is the first fully computer animated feature film. It is the story of what happens to toys in their spare time. What do they do for fun and how come they are never where you left them?
Tom Hanks is the voice of Woody, a pull-string cowboy who is Andy's favorite toy. Andy plays with him, dresses like him and has his pictures hanging on his wall. Being the favorite, Woody is also the leader of the rest of the toys. These include a Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), a shy dinosaur (Wallace Shawn from The Princess Bride), a slinky dog (Jim "Ernest" Varney) and a Bo Peep lamp (Annie Potts) who has a crush on Woody.
Whenever there is a chance of a new toy coming in to the house, the other toys go into action. They send the little green army men on a reconnaissance mission to find out what it is. (Mr. Potato Head is always hoping for a Mrs. Potato Head). On Andy's birthday and Christmas, the army men slide down a jump-rope and hide in the plants while they relay back what presents Andy got. This particular birthday Andy receives a new action figure, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). Buzz quickly becomes Andy's favorite as Woody feels jealous and is tossed aside. The other toys are amazed at Buzz's "hi-tech" gizmos such as a flickering lightbulb laser. Buzz is a great guy who wants to do good things. The problem is that he doesn't know he's a toy. He thinks he is real.
The work that went into the making of this film is incredible and it pays off in dividends. The computer animation is seamless, almost making you forget that what you are watching is not real. Painstaking detail went into the design of each character, right down to the thin, plastic flashing around the army men's heads. (You know, the stuff you used to pull off with your teeth). They even have injection mold marks on their backs. But great animation alone does not a great film make, and Disney knows this. The script is also first rate, with jokes and sight gags constantly flying. Mr. Potato Head is always loosing an eye or ear and, at one point, re-arranges his face and pro- claims, "Look, I'm Picasso." References like this were made for the adults in the audience and the producers know that, no matter how many children see a movie, they are the ones who pay the money. One of the best scenes is when the toys link together the arms of the monkeys from A Barrel Full Of Monkeys and lower them out the window trying to save Buzz. Some scenes may not be for very small children either. Andy's next door neighbor is Sid, a boy who tortures and destroys his toys. In his room he has "monsters" put together from parts of different toys that seem to swarm all over new toys. Upon seeing this Woody exclaims, "They're mecannibals!" Disney also likes to put in their own product placement. As Andy and his mom are in the car "Hakuna Matata" is playing on the radio. Another inside joke is the fact that0 the toolbox in Sid's room is from Binford Tools. Binford is the fictional tool company on television's "Home Improvement", a Disney production also starring Tim Allen.
The action in this movie comes when Woody and Buzz are separated from the other toys and must make it back to the house. There is more, and better, action here than in all the Steven Seagal films put together.
My only wish for this film is that the humans in it were real people. As much as I appreciate the work that went into animating it, and the results are astounding, if the people were real then that would bring out the magic of the toys coming to life even more. Now the people look like toys more than the toys themselves do. Also, the scant 1:17 running time is a little short when asked to pay $7.50.
This is truly a movie that everyone can enjoy. There is the animation
and the story for the kids. There are the inside jokes and knowledge of
who is doing the voices for the adults. There is also the memory of playing
with the toys that are now on the screen. How many of us can't reminisce
about our Slinky going down the stairs or drawing squiggly lines on our
Etch-A-Sketch? It is nice to see that Hollywood can still make wholesome
family films like this that can be this much fun.