Toy-Story

Another month and another edition of Film Club. This months Film Club choice was down to myself and I wanted to choose something slightly different. With that it occurred to me that we have not yet covered an animated film and I wanted to be the first to do so. A few choices went through my mind before choosing, but in the end it just had to be Pixar’s first foray into motion pictures; Toy Story.

I hope you like my pick and enjoy reading what everyone else has to say on the film.

What About the Twinkie:

20 years ago, Pixar released their first major animated picture with Toy Story. The film was a bona-fide success and became an instant hit with both children and adults. The likeable characters, funny one-liners and emotional core resonated with audiences of all ages. Toy Story was, and still is, a film that is incredibly hard to dislike. The story of a young boy whose toys come to life when he is not playing with them is as simple a premise as they come, but Pixar make it all seem so original & fresh and most of all, fun. As a production company, Pixar instantly set the bar for themselves and other animation studios, meaning that everyone else suddenly had to work twice as hard to even attempt to keep up with them.

Pixar’s hit rate as a studio was set up with Toy Story, and their level of quality only began to show any sign of decline with 2006’s Cars, a whole 11 years later. Of course, Pixar is still making high quality animation and is, arguably, still the finest major animation studio working in Hollywood. What Toy Story started 20 years ago is still working today and the film itself still resonates with audiences of all ages, and it hits a particular chord with those of us who remember seeing it for the first time at the cinema way back in 1995. Toy Story remains timeless and when compared to its sequels and the other Pixar films, can still stand as one of their finest efforts.

Rating: 10/10

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Movie Rob:

I recall seeing this in the theatre in ’95 and being amazed at the quality of the animation and the story. The people of Pixar were able to create an amazing world with a new and improved form of animation.

The characters they created have become so popular over the years that Woody, Buzz and their friends are still so easily recognizable. This movie has found a warm place in my heart because many of the employees of Pixar are of my generation and this movie always triggers memories of toys from my childhood.

It seemed as if the employees at Pixar had so much fun making it because it drew on their own childhood experiences to create a movie that “kids of all ages could enjoy”. I am so glad that Tim Allen and Tom Hanks were chosen to voice the two main characters. They were such great choices and it’s hard to imagine anyone else voicing Woody or Buzz.

This is such a novel idea for an animated movie. Pixar proved with this movie that they could raise the bar on the quality of animation and keep doing so even now, two decades later.

Rating: 10/10

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Films and Things:

Who doesn’t love Toy Story?

One of Pixar’s greatest films, Toy Story never fails to take me back to my childhood. It has a timeless feel and I’m certain kids will continue to love it for many decades to come.

It’s very surprising to think just how old Toy Story is. Released in 1995 it is almost as old as me. Just to give some perspective here, it came out in the same decade that Die Hard with a Vengeance did and Bruce Willis still had hair! In the world of film 20 is pretty old, especially with the fast rate at which technology develops, and yet Toy Story still holds up as one of the greatest animated films of all time

I can still remember the first time I ever saw Toy Story. It would have been around 1999/2000, and my dad took my brother and me somewhere to buy a video to keep us occupied for a bit. Sadly, it was my Grandma’s funeral but at four and six years old neither of us were really at an age to attend, so we stayed at home, baby sat by our Nan, and watched Toy Story, and my God did that film shape my childhood!

Watching it now brings back so many great memories. I was obsessed with the film, I had a pair of Jessie pyjamas and a little mini Woody doll, which by the way I still have. The doll, not the PJs. And on more than one occasion I ran around the garden, Woody doll in hand, having little imaginary adventures with him. My Woody was only about five inches long, so I did regularly ask for a ‘big woody’ but never got one, oh the innocence of a child’s mind!

Toy Story is a film for adults and kids alike, it has many great innuendos and things thrown in for the adults which Pixar does incredibly well, making it enjoyable for the whole family. Re-watching it as an adult it was still just as entertaining as the first time, if not more so because as an adult I can now actually understand the little jokes that made the grownups snigger.

I simply cannot fault the film, in fact my only criticism would be that at one hour and 20 minutes long, the original Toy Story just isn’t long enough. It has some truly heart-warming messages about friendship and growing up that is bound to take anyone, no matter when you were born or how old you were when you first watched Toy Story, back to their childhood. It is entertainment and escapism at its absolute finest and will always have a special place in my heart.

To infinity and beyond!

Rating: 10/10

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Oracle of Film:

Toy Story is a difficult review to write. Not because I am struggling to decide how I really feel about this iconic piece of animated cinema, but because what can I say that hasn’t been said many times before? Pixar have brought out some of the best and most resonant children’s movies to date and we could easily argue that Toy Story is their best work. I wouldn’t call it my favourite Pixar, the beauty of Finding Nemo and the power of Up more suited to my cinema tastes, but I cannot deny it is the story that has the most sway in pop culture. It is just such a great idea: what if our toys were sentient? Without undermining the amazing work the writers put into this story, Toy Story just writes itself.

Pixar just play in their own imaginations creating a world of infectious fun and wonder. The characters are instantly charismatic from Woody’s selfless hero (the irony is that a powerhouse and renowned actor like Tom Hanks is best known for a character he doesn’t physically embody), to the dry wit of Ham. Hell, just as good is the irrepressible Buzz Lightyear, the iconic Mr. Potato Head… even the silent race car toy is bursting with personality. Throw them together in a story that involves a creepy spider/baby, the bully to end all bullies and a terrific showdown involving a rocket and evil dog, and we have the perfect movie.

Rating: 10/10

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HC Movie Reviews:

Pixar’s first and arguably most memorable film comes under the spotlight this month for Film Club. I’ll admit that I’m not sure when I watched this film last, I imagine it was probably in my early teenage years so I was interested to see how it would fare under my maybe more critical eye now!

Immediately I found the whole premise a lot funnier than I remembered and I was really appreciating some of the dialogue that clearly went over my head as a youngster. Anyone should be able to relate to Andy as he sets up his toys and plays out several scenarios with them, this aspect of the film will never age as long as the same can be said for the viewers memories of childhood. So whilst I was finding Toy Story a lot more comical than I remembered it also felt slightly rushed. I suppose this has plenty to do with its minuscule running time of 78 minutes. Perfect I imagine for the target audience of kids but I felt like it moved along a little too fast.

While watching I couldn’t help but feel that this Pixar effort was made solely for the kids, whilst their latest offering, Inside Out feels the opposite. I found it hard watching Toy Story with the knowledge of what is to come and for me it didn’t really stand the test of time. I appreciate what it did for Pixar and how fantastic it was at the time but apart from nostalgia I don’t think it can be enjoyed by kids and parents alike in the same way that more recent animations can.

Toy Story is still a great movie though; fantastic voice performances from the likes of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and many more really do bring the toys to life and give them brilliant personalities. The introduction of these characters was vital to future successes and clearly worked as Toy Story 4 is coming our way. Another highlight had to be the music from Randy Newman whether it’s the iconic ‘You’ve Got a Friend In Me’ or ‘Strange Things’, this soundtrack is timeless and really adds richness to the films quality.

Toy Story was amazing at the time but I honestly think now it’s just good. It’s hard to feel like it isn’t slightly lacking when we have another 14 films in Pixar’s filmography to compare it to, nonetheless its fun and will sustain your attention. I’m grateful if nothing else for what Pixar started with this movie and how they have used this as a platform to go on…to infinity, and beyond!

Rating: 7/10

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Silver Screen Serenade:

First of all, I wanted to commend Kieron for his excellent film choice. I mean, TOY STORY, you guys!!! I was all too happy to get the chance to watch this one again. It’s like slipping back into my oh-so-nineties childhood, and it feels awesome.

I know Tom Hanks has played memorable roles in a lot of fantastic films—Forrest Gump, Castaway, Saving Private Ryan, etc.— but I think what I will always, always remember him most by is his perfect portrayal of the character Woody, a pull-string cowboy toy and favourite of his owner, Andy (John Morris). Hanks’ enthusiastic voice work adds layers to the character, making a toy into an interesting little bundle of cloth and plastic with as many hopes and fears and emotions as his human owner. And those emotions go wild when Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), a high-tech spaceman toy, steps in, threatening Woody’s once secure role as Andy’s favourite. Serious and dedicated to the point of silliness, Buzz is a fun match for Woody, who is jealous of and exasperated by the new toy at every turn. Throw in a grumpy Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), a timid T-Rex (Wallace Shawn), a wise-cracking piggy bank (John Ratzenberger), a loyal slinky dog (Jim Varney), and more, and it makes for a pretty colourful cast.

There’s so much about this film to appreciate. The idea that our toys come to life when we aren’t looking could be unbearably creepy, but Toy Story does it in a way that makes the toys sweet, sincere, and hilarious (and only creepy around one sadistic character who deserves it). It’s a really creative story, and I have to admire the director (John Lasseter) and his team for the idea. The writers clearly have a ball with the whole ordeal.

Fun fact: Did you know Joss Whedon was part of this writing team? From animation to superheroes to horror, the man really can do anything. And the animation! I remember how different it was from everything else at the time. Pixar’s CGI animation is always so vibrant, and seeing it for the first time back in 1995 was a wonderful surprise. 20 years later, the gorgeous animation still looks as fantastic as it did then. The film has aged remarkable well.

I think Toy Story is basically perfect, but if I had to pick on some minor things, I guess I could point out that Woody’s kind of a jerk for a while, but this is done so we can see him mature and so we can watch the evolution of his relationship with Buzz. The only other thing I’d like to point out is if you’re an impressionable young child—like I was when I saw this for the first time—you will undoubtedly look on your old toys with a new sense of guilt. Honestly, I think it’s inspired a new generation of hoarders. Nobody wants to throw away or neglect toys if they have all of the thoughts and emotions that human have. So, you know, that might mess with you.

But, hey, so what if you keep that old stuffed animal for the rest of your life because you’re afraid it’s going to spiral into a depression if you don’t? For the privilege of experiencing Toy Story, it’s totally worth it. Fantastic little film.

Rating: 9.5/10

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The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger:

Ah, a classic for sure. I absolutely adored this movie as a rugrat. It was everything you could possibly want in a movie – funny, dramatic, sweet, cool animation, great music, loads of fun… and live toys. Oh hell yeah, I was so totally on board! My love for Toy Story has not diminished over the years, not one little bit. Granted, I don’t watch animations now as much as I used to, but this is a classic for a reason. Woody is just the most awesome, and Buzz, who starts off as a super frustrating nitwit, turns into such a sweet character. His Mrs Nesbitt breakdown is a thing of pure beauty for me.

The animation was really amazing for its time and holds up well, though you can certainly see it is not as smooth as some of the more recent ones. Toy Story also has one of the better storylines/plots, and it is highly enjoyable all the way through. I honestly don’t know a single person that doesn’t enjoy this movie. It’s action packed, it’s entertaining, it doesn’t have any lull, it’s adorable and superbly charming… Toy Story is great. The characters are worth watching, Buzz and Woody’s developing friendship is something you can buy into, the jealousy is completely understandable and the movie itself is infinitely quotable and boasts a fantastic soundtrack. This is a movie that has been enjoyed by multiple generations, as it should be. To infinity, and beyond!

Rating: 8.5/10

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Flashback/Backslide:

So full disclosure, I just wrote a review of Toy Story over on my site as part of a Pixar series I started a few weeks ago. But I’m always up for more Toy Story. I’d say it’s hard to exaggerate what the movie’s release meant for movies. Which is crazy considering how messed up the movie is at times. At least for a kids movie. What with the hero-turned-outlaw, executions, and mutant cult. Which really does sound like ingredients to another The Hills Have Eyes remake.

From the opening scenes Toy Story introduces a surprisingly deep roster of characters: a wisecracking piggy bank, a loyal Slinky Dog, an insecure T. Rex, a duelling etch-a-sketch and a host of others. Sheriff Woody stars as the favourite toy of beloved owner Andy and serves as the de facto leader of the group, leading staff meetings and celebrating the success of “Tuesday night’s plastic corrosion awareness meeting.” At the start of the film the toys are preparing for Andy’s impending birthday party and an upcoming move to a new house. In the world of the toys birthday parties lead to an especially frantic panic as they worry that a flashy newcomer will replace them and rob them of Andy’s love. Rex, already terrified that he’s not terrifying enough, clasps his tiny hands together and whimpers: “What if it’s another dinosaur? A mean one? I just don’t think I can take that kind of rejection!”

After a daring reconnaissance mission led by toy soldiers we learn that a new toy is poised to join the crew. Soon the eccentric but dashing Buzz Lightyear bursts onto the scene and attempts to secure Andy’s room in the name of Star Command. Equipped with karate chop action, wrist mounted lasers and retractable wings, Buzz soon becomes Andy’s go-to toy and one of the most popular members in the community. Woody watches in horror as western themed blankets and posters are replaced with Space Command gear. Things spiral out of control for the Sheriff when he tries to swap places with Buzz on an upcoming trip to the now famously Easter Egg-ed Pizza Planet. As his plan falls apart, Hamm and Mr. Potato Head accuse Woody of casting Buzz out in a jealous rage. With the support of his old friends lost and the attention of Andy slipping, Woody sets out to redeem himself and bring Buzz home. On their journey in the outside world, Woody and Buzz deal with a Crane Game Cult, a disfigured band of cannibals, and the sadistic antics of a potential future serial killer.

Like Pixar’s later films, Toy Story wrestles with adult themes and dresses them with witty humour and piggy bank jokes. Buzz grapples with his identity, Woody with jealousy and self-image, Rex with self-confidence, and Mr. Potato Head with the struggles of handling infants. None of these issues are unique to Toy Story or Pixar (Disney’s earlier animated films forced non-humans to deal with these same human emotions) but the film lays the groundwork for what would become a two decade long run of complex films dealing with relatively heavy issues for the genre. Toy Story, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Up and the rest make up one of the more remarkable filmographies for any studio going back all the way to the Golden Age majors.

Rating: 9/10

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Ten Stars or Less:

There are two kinds of animated movies in history…the ones released before Toy Story in 1995 and the ones released after.

It is actually amazing to think that Toy Story came out 20 years ago in November. What was dubbed a first of its kind back then is now probably considered antique at this point, considering how far computer animation has come in 2015. The latest big box office hit Inside Out owes a large part of its success to Toy Story and the people who put the countless hours to bring some of Hollywood’s greatest characters to life. Up until that point in time there had never been a story told from a toy perspective about life when humans are not around.

Toy Story may have been good with any actors/actresses providing their voice talents to Woody the cowboy and Buzz the astronaut, but what made this movie so great was Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. Both actors were in the prime of their careers and what better way to bring joy to an animated movie than to listen to these two mega stars butt heads as toys for an hour and half trying to be Andy’s favourite. One has been the king of the bedroom (Woody) for years while the new guy on the block (Buzz) is just trying to fit in. The fact that the animators used cowboys (America’s old heroes) and then space rangers (America’s new heroes) really fits well into history and the mind of young kids looking for the next big thing to love. Ask anyone who watched the original Star Trek series and they will say that interest in space peaked in the 1960s during the space race, which provided us with amazing stories ever since (think Star Wars). As with any kid growing up though, their interests change over time and what is awesome today may suck three weeks from now.

If you browse any movie review website you will see that no one dislikes this movie or tries to find anything wrong with it, it is just that good. Toy Story is a rare gem in movie history that laid the ground work for future movies in its genre to blossom into what they are today. No matter whether you are young or old, Toy Story is a great buddy movie that can be enjoyed by anyone at anytime.

Also I do have to say thanks to Toy Story because for 20 years now I have wondered what my stuffed animals do when I’m not home. Thanks for the great memories.

Rating: 9/10

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Sweet Archive:

God, I haven’t seen this one since the last time I babysat. Not being cynical, true story. It’s such an original pick and one I most enjoyed reviewing. Good one, Kieron! I have always found this movie adorable and moving, although I do have a flavour for the older Disney movies. I love the idea behind Toy Story, though. Have you ever wondered what toys actually do when you go to sleep at night? Did you ever imagine them come to life and talk to each other? Call me crazy, but I sure did…

The characters are so thought of in this film. A brilliant bunch of talking toys; Woody is an old fashioned cowboy toy and is also in charge, until his place as the kid’s favourite is being threatened by a new and exciting gadget powered space ranger toy named Buzz. Buzz thinks he’s a real space ranger and fails to accept the fact he’s just a commercialized plastic toy, and it’s truly sad when he discovers the truth. Rex is a hilarious and unconfident dinosaur, anxious of being replaced by a more innovative Jurassic figure, thus practicing his roar, Mr. Potato Head is a slightly grumpy toy constantly losing his body parts and craves the presence of a Mrs. Potato Head, and they keep getting better and better! Like in many Disney / Pixar films, there’s a villain here too, a vicious boy with braces named Sid, who loves blowing up his toys and putting them back together again in very weird and grotesque ways. Scary little creature that boy is (a serial killer in potential?)

When you actually think how this movie was made, it’s pure genius! Directed by John Lasseter, Toy Story brought the animation world to a whole new level of computerized animation, which later on developed to a 3D version. Don’t forget it was in 1995, 20 years ago!!! Could you believe it’s been so long??? It’s no wonder it’s gotten through to so many kids, adults, film critics. This movie’s timeless, “a visionary roller-coaster ride of a movie” as Roger Ebert puts it, and he’s absolutely right!

Toy Story should also be praised for its voices cast. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are brilliant picks for Woody and Buzz’s voices, not to mention Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride) as the neurotic dinosaur, Rex, who is by far my favourite Toy Story character. I’m a dedicated Tom Hank’s fan usually, but I’ll give Wallace the prize for the funniest voice over EVER. Annie Potts (Ghostbusters) who’s also a favourite of mine did an amazing voice over for Bo Peep. Truly an amazing cast!!

The plot is wonderful and touching, the movie is colourful and thrilling, the animation is absolutely fantastic, and it brings up so many childhood memories!! What’s not to love?

Rating: 9/10

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Film Club Rating: 9.2/10

General Consensus: Toy Story is a legitimate classic. 20 years on and audiences are still enjoying the vibrant characters and emotional story. Pixar’s first film is still one of their best & a classic in every sense of the word.

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