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Thursday, June 23, 2011

DVD Challenge #13: TOY STORY

Toy Story
Run-time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Directed by: John Lasseter
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, R. Lee Ermey

After 2010's Toy Story 3 completely blew me away, I quickly made my way to the nearest DVD vendor and bought the first two installments of the Toy Story franchise. If my memory serves me correctly, I don't think I've seen either of the films since their initial theatrical runs in 1995 and 1999, respectively. Sure, I've seen snippets here and there over the last fifteen years, but I think today marks the first time that I've actually sat down and watched the original Toy Story film in its entirety since my childhood.

Those of you who have been reading my blogs as of late will know that a number of the original Toy Story characters made my list of favorite Pixar characters of all time, with Buzz Lightyear reaching the highest spot at number five. If that's not enough to show you how much the franchise has affected my life, then I'm not quite sure what else could. The first Toy Story film is easily one of the most iconic films from the 1990s, and it marked a drastic shift in the future scope of animated film. As was depicted in the 2007 documentary The Pixar Story, Toy Story blew the lid off anything that anyone had ever seen before, sending animation into a completely new realm that has yet to let up.

Had the innovations presented in Toy Story been the only keys to its success, then it would still be lauded as a fantastic achievement in the halls of computer generation. However, the brilliant minds at Pixar found a way to craft an equally brilliant screenplay to balance the dazzling visual spectacle. They took a very simple - and utterly common - thought and ran with it. What child hasn't ever wondered what their toys doing behind locked doors? Children have such a vivid imagination that they transplant onto their toys that it's hard for them not to imagine them continuing their imagined existence when we leave the room. As I child, I always wanted to know what battles my Star Wars toys would wage against the Barbies my sister had, and to think that it could happen was exhilarating. Pixar brought that fantasy to life, and they did so by making a very human set of toys.

I could probably go on for hours about the brilliance of the voice acting in this film, giving plenty of credit to the likes of Hanks and Allen especially. They brought the characters to life, but a lot of the credit does need to go to the writing and the animation. These characters are given very human emotions with which to deal, and the quality of animation conveys their emotions extremely well. In a way, the plot - which is relatively standard, when you think about it - takes more of a back seat to the character-driven storyline that shows fantastic arcs for our two leads. Yes, Buzz's is a little more extreme, but it's undeniable that Woody doesn't also go through a massive transformation. Even some of the lesser characters grow to some extent. The completeness of the characters, as well as our ability to relate to them, is what truly sells this movie.

From the dazzling visual display to the solid screenplay that focuses on character development, Disney and Pixar brought a vastly new cinematic experience to the screens in 1995. Even to this day, Toy Story remains a classic, and even though I personally think that Pixar has made better films since, there's no denying that this one was a trailblazer that set the immediate standard for animated films.

Best All-Time: #98

Previous DVD Challenge: SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT (1999)

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