A Wonderful Story About Toys
Way back in 1995, Pixar Animation were a relatively unknown extension of Disney Animation, lamented by studio heads as they struggled desperately to bring about a new wave of computer generated animation, away from the conventional hand drawn animations Disney have always been famous for. Toy Story is the film that started this revolution in film-making, weaving a surprisingly accessible story for both adults and children with a host of memorable characters and a strong thematic core about acceptance and friendship all wrapped up in an aesthetically impressive CGI venture.
The story begins with cowboy doll Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) enjoying life as the favourite toy of his owner Andy. When a shiny new astronaut toy called Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) arrives and becomes Andy’s new favourite plaything, Woody becomes consumed by jealousy resulting in both toys being separated from Andy and left all alone in the world. Forced to work together to get back to Andy, Toy Story’s character driven story spends most of its time following these two toys, seeing the world from their miniature perspective while cutting back to the other toys left at Andy’s as they try to adjust to life without their two charismatic lead toys. The story itself is relatively formulaic but stands out thanks to a harmonious use of humour and action that keep the story moving forward at a delightful pace. Ultimately it’s the memorable characters that make this such an endearing film thouigh and what people remember the most fondly about this animated flick.
Toy Story is helped too by some tremendous voice acting from the talented cast including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as well as a whole slew of others that bring their respective characters to life. Toy Story is as technically impressive as it is charming. Seeing the toys come to life in private and lying dormant in the presence of humans is a nice touch too, echoing their real world counterparts with an array of facial animations, wild, exaggerated mannerisms and some witty dialogue. The playful, upbeat soundtrack is generally good too, driven forward by a memorable score by Randy Newman, mixing lyrical and instrumental songs that fit perfectly with the theme and tone of the film.
It seems almost unfathomable now to imagine a time where computer generated imagery wasn’t a normal occurrence in the world of animation but Toy Story remains the first breakthrough for Pixar and to this day one of the most memorable films the studio has ever produced. While some of the backgrounds and landscapes in the scenes do look a little basic and pale in comparison to later Pixar flicks, Toy Story’s characters are ultimately what keep the film going and there’s a huge amount of charm here that make this such an impressive entry in Pixar’s illustrious catalogue.