Flashback Review: Toy Story

Thank you my fellow movie goers from across the globe for supporting my website. My 200th post is a special article on the first movie I’ve ever seen in a theater is a movie called, Toy Story. Before I get to the basic pros & cons, let’s rewind the clocks back to 1986 on how Toy Story was conceived as the first computer animated film which helped encourage many production companies to come up with their own stories.

John Lasseter worked as an animator for Disney and hired by George Lucas as an employee for his Visual Effects Company called, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM for short) to learn how to animate from both two dimensional & three dimensional format. With his newly acquired skills, he established Pixar in 1986, alongside Chairman Of Apple Inc. Steve Jobs who financially supported the company out of his own pocket & Edwin Catmull as the de facto president.

Now that Pixar is born, John & his crew immediately began development on a short film called, “Luxo Jr.” It’s about a mini desk lamp who plays with a bouncing ball much to the annoyance of his parent, Luxo Sr. The short film earned attention from The Academy Awards to select this short as an eligible nominee for Best Animated Short Film at The 59th Academy Awards. Luxo Jr. went on to become Pixar’s mascot, as a reminder to the public that Luxo Jr. is considered their “first born child.”

Pixar produced three short films in 1987-1989 titled, Red’s Dream, Tin Toy & Knick Knack. Red’s Dream focuses on a unicycle who wants to live in a better home. Tin Toy is about a toy who must escape the clutches of a baby. Knick Knack depicts a snowman trapped inside a snow globe, he attempts to break out when he suddenly falls in love with a mermaid who’s actually a souvenir.

Tin Toy earned critical acclaim, it went on to win Best Animated Short Film at The 61st Academy Awards, cemented as both milestone for Pixar as their first Oscar win & the first computer animated film to win an Oscar. Tin Toy is considered a prototype to Toy Story and a primary influence. In 1990, as a result of Pixar’s growing reputation, former Disney CEO/Future DreamWorks co-founder, Jeffery Katzenberg, offered John Lasseter & his crew a golden opportunity to develop a full length motion picture. The Pixar Gang said yes. Thus they began their five year long development.

John Lasseter, Pete Docter & Andrew Stanton wrote the first draft of the script. Katzenberg read it, he claimed that the script was complicated. For example, Woody was originally gonna be depicted as a villainous ventriloquist dummy bullied Andy’s toys. Katzenberg persuaded John to rewrite the script as a buddy comedy. John & his team watched The Odd Couple, Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours & Midnight Run, in order to flesh out Woody & Buzz’s chemistry together as friends/rivals. Disney also hired Joss Whedon to make the story organic, Joss himself, invented Wallace Shawn’s character, Rex.

A few A-List actors were consider voice Buzz Lightyear, such as Chevy Chase, Billy Crystal & Jim Carrey. Lasseter personally chosed Tim Allen for the role, because he’s a fan of Home Improvement.  Tom Hanks signed on as Woody, after Pixar impressed him by transferring Tom’s lines from Turner & Hooch, into a prototype of Woody’s body language & dialogue, to make Woody resemble a three dimensional character. Pixar redesigned Woody as a pull string cowboy and match Tom’s face to resemble his character.

After a hectic five year gap of development, Disney & Pixar finally distributed Toy Story across the globe.

Toy Story was released in 1995. It received critical acclaim from critics and movie goers. It made a lot of money at the box office.

The film went on to encourage animators to develop their own computer animated studios including, DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Studios, Sony Computer Animation & Illumination Entertainment, to create their own unique films and franchises. Toy Story spawned a franchise with two entries, short films and merchandise consisting of action figures, video games, t-shirts, costumes etc.

Now that Toy Story 4 is currently in development, I’ve decided to look back on one of my favorite movies of all time as a sign to support Pixar’s upcoming Incredibles sequel and Kingdom Hearts 3 is gonna cross paths with Toy Story characters. Don’t forget that Toy Story Land is gonna open at Walt Disney World Resort in June 30. Make sure you saved up on your vacation money!

This review doesn’t contain any massive SPOILERS. You’re allowed to read this article, just so you know if you never ever ever ever seen the entire thing.

Positive: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn & John Ratzenberger (Pixar’s good luck charm) all did an excellent job on their respective performances.

Computer Animation at the time, was groundbreaking and it still holds up for a film that came out in 1995.

Joss Whedon co-wrote the screenplay filled with memorable dialogue, cementing Toy Story as one of the most quotable movies of all time.

Comedy managed to make me laugh without cringing throughout.

Randy Newman wrote the unforgettable song “You’ve Got A Friend In Me.” He also orchestrated the soundtrack. By the way, he wrote “Strange Things” & “I Will Go Sailing No More.” Both Of them deserved recognition.

Chemistry between Woody & Buzz felt organic. As they must learn to work as s team, if they want to make it back to Andy.

Without giving too much away, Character Development involving both Woody & Buzz as the film progresses, their friendship/rivalry begins to flesh out.

Primary Themes for the film are, Jealously, Friendship & Narcissism. (becomes a habit for every Pixar protagonist)

One scene pays tribute to the infamous boulder scene from Raiders Of The Lost Ark. to put the icing on the cake, a Wilhelm Scream is used. I’m giving this pro an Extra Point for making a double reference to both Steven Spielberg & George Lucas.

A Television commercial shows Al’s Toy Barn for a few seconds. It’s a toy store featured as one of the main locations from Toy Story 2. I guess Pixar was foreshadowing that they’re setting up a follow up, if the original was a critical & commercial success, they’ll begin their next adventure.

Penn Jillette, (half of the duo from Penn & Teller) has a voice over cameo in a fictional commercial. I refuse to tell you what commercial it is, you’re gonna have to see for yourself.

There’s a Pause Worthy Moment featuring a Mickey Mouse clock located in Andy’s Room.

A113 is labeled on Andy’s Mom’s license plate. A113 is a reference to a classroom when Future animators including Tim Burton, who used to attend The California Institute Of The Arts. (CalArts for short) The number can also be spotted in other Pixar films, make sure you pause your TV to find it!

My favorite line from the entire picture is, “Don’t you get it, you see the hat, I am Mrs. Nesbit!” I’m giving this quote a bunch of Bonus Points, for making me laugh hysterically! I would definitely love to see this line listed as one of A.F.I.’s Best Movie Quotes!

The Lion King’s “Hakuna Matata,” is played in the background. Disney must’ve given us fans a wink.

The Ending sets up the next installment perfectly, without shoving sequel bait in your face.

Negative: I couldn’t find anything particularly wrong with this film. I’m giving Pixar an Extra Point for making their first full length film as flawless as possible!

The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!

Toy Story still holds up as a timeless innovative masterpiece for many families. As a kid, I loved it, as an adult, I still consider Toy Story and its sequels as one my personal favorite films. If you’re kid or grankid has never seen the first one, introduce them to the original right now along with 2 & 3!

Workers at Pixar, if you’re reading this, I want to thank you for introducing Toy Story to me. You’re the sole reason why I love movies in the first place. I’m looking forward to The Incredibles 2 & Toy Story 4. I’m gonna be the first in line to see them!

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