Sunday, 18 May 2014

Ani-MAY-tion Month: Toy Story (1995)

It's strange now to think of the many, many years before Pixar were such a huge success in the realm of animated movies, but Toy Story certainly announced their arrival in the best way possible. Smart, packed with great gags and characters, a visual delight (although Pixar would develop and improve with each subsequent movie), and benefiting from a premise that will appeal to any child, and anyone who can remember their childhood.

Woody (Tom Hanks) is a cowboy, and he's also young Andy's favourite toy. He loves his life. When nobody else is around, the toys are all able to live the lives that they keep secret from all of us humans. But things change when Andy receives a shiny new toy for his birthday. A Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) action figure. Buzz has a laser, wings, better audio speakers, the lot. He's a super duper, shiny spaceman, and his presence threatens Woody's position as the number one toy in the room. And to add to the frustration, Buzz doesn't realise that he is a toy. He thinks that he is THE Buzz Lightyear.

Directed by John Lasseter, who also developed the story idea with Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and Joe Ranft, Toy Story remains not just one of Pixar's best movies, but also a statement of intent. It showed just how in tune they were with audiences, mixing fresh ideas and animation with enough jokes and nostalgia to keep adults happy. The script is packed full of great lines, written by Stanton, Alec Sokolow, Joel Cohen, and one Joss Whedon, and the world of the toys is rendered in a creative, colourful, and brilliantly believable, way by the team of talented animators.

The voice cast is the icing on the cake. Hanks and Allen are both superb as Woody and Buzz, but the film is given even more plus points thanks to the involvement of Don Rickles, Jim Varney, John Ratzenberger, Wallace Shawn, R. Lee Ermey, Annie Potts, and, well, basically everyone who lends their voice to any character (including Erik von Detten, who does great work as Sid, the nasty kid who lives next door, and spends a lot of his time damaging toys).

The original, and still the best, Toy Story is an object lesson in how to make a modern movie for the whole family. The tools are used to realise the story, as opposed to being overused just because they're available, the film talks directly to children without ever talking down to them, and both the script and visuals provide enough gags and details to keep boredom at bay, no matter how many times you've already seen it.


Don't forget, every copy of my book sold gets a few pounds in my pocket, and gets you a good read (if I say so myself).

The UK version can be bought here -

And American folks can buy it here -

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

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