We all remember the close bonds we’ve developed with our Raggedy Ann dolls and G.I. Joe action figures, and to this day we may still keep the memories with those friends close at hand well into adulthood. But wherever we may be at in our stage of life, the toys that gave us our first real personal connection to something never stop being special to us, a feeling captured all too perfectly in history’s first ever full-length feature made entirely by computers, Toy Story.
It’s been twenty-one years, and this laugh-out-loud family gem still delivers on a believable friendship every child builds with his favorite toy, as well as the type of friendships our toys could have made with each other. The differences shared between old-school pull-string cowboy doll Woody and the much more modern batteries-included space ranger Buzz Lightyear is one that parallels many of our own relationships we may have had growing up, either in school or within our own families.
The smack-middle of the mega-retro 1990s could not have been a more perfect time for this film to be made: the nostalgic memories of old Hollywood is meshed with the revolutionary hopes toward the future, proving how even in a time of flashy new products and loud television commercials, inspiration can still land on a new generation of artists who love to spend time playing with toys.
Clearly I don’t need to explain the plot of this charm, so I’ll just go straight ahead at saying how Toy Story manages to capture the life of a toy in a fashion that appeals to all ages.
The creation of the world takes a magical point of view filled with pure genius, from the weekly staff meeting to how the toys inside a skill crane view the giant claw above them. With each way the instantly memorable characters react to conflict, I would know precisely how every one of them would think and feel in any given circumstance. Now after watching Woody go through an uncalled-for journey after Andy replaces him with Buzz, I have an acute sense of how a toy would feel about seeing a newer, flashier toy replace a much older toy. I’d say this is the rare circumstance of product placement in a movie done the right way. With familiar icons of the past hundred years including Etch-a-Sketch, Mr. Potato Head, Battleship, and Slinky Dog, they all the more prove how the soon approaching new millenium will see a drastic shift in both toys and technology.
What makes it all the more believable to watch is how the mind of a perfectly sustainable six-year-old boy is contrasted with the mentally disturbed thirteen-year-old who lives next door. Sid’s parents merely let him play with explosives all he wants and certainly do not appear like the active parents that Andy’s mom is. The effects of a love and discipline-deprived child is painted all the greater with his twisted toy creations used to visualize the lost childhood he surely had. It’s the details like this that make this created universe the most brilliant fantasy of reality we could hope for.
Yet I still cannot believe that this engrossing world seen from a toy’s perspective could legitimately exist underneath our noses. For example: how does Buzz know to freeze around humans if he thinks he’s a real space ranger? How is it that no one besides the dog hears the toy’s rather loud conversations? There are way too many instances where logic and physics are tossed out the window for plot‘s sake.
I also believe that the appeal of Toy Story could have been much stronger than what it ended up with. Clearly it’s meant to be a family film, and I hear of countless people, male and female, young and old, who simply adore this movie. But I am a bit bothered by its lack of strong female characters for little girls to root for. Bo Peep is nothing besides a love interest for Woody, Mrs. Davis is just the mom and nothing else, Hannah is simply the little sister of the Phillips household, and Molly can’t even speak yet. It’s a shame that this heavily white-washed movie is a little too focused on the boy toys.
But my sister still loves this movie just as much as I do, so it can’t be a total strike against this otherwise phenomenal achievement in the art of filmmaking.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Benson, Etienne, Toy Stories. Association for Psychological Science. 12 Dec 2006. Web. <http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/publications/observer/2006/december-06/toy-stories.html>.
Toy Story. Disney. Web. <http://toystory.disney.com/>.
Toy Story (1995), “Guts of Steel.” Digital image. 20/20 Movie Reviews. 15 Apr 2013. Web. <http://www.2020-movie-reviews.com/reviews-year/1995-movie-reviews/toy-story-1995-movie-review/>.