Woody: YOU… ARE… A…TOY!!!
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
Back in 1995 Pixar released their first feature-length movie, which proved to establish it as a reckoning force in the world of animation. And although Pixar has had far better movies over the years, this movie still finds itself capable of being held up next to the best of the best.
The story involves the toys of a boy named Andy. When Andy and his family are not around all the toys come to life. The toys are concerned as Andy’s birthday is coming up and Andy might get new toys that may overshadow them. But the leader among the toys, Woody the cowboy is able to quell their worries as he has been Andy’s favorite for years and has kept them all together for some time. However Andy gets a new toy named Buzz Lightyear who has all sorts of new gadgets on him and upstages Woody. Woody attempts to fight for his spot as Andy’s favorite. His attempts however go too far and the two end up in the house of the next-door neighbor toy-torturer Sid Phillips. Thus the two must find a friendship among each other and escape before Andy and his family move away.
While there is a villain in this story, he doesn’t play into the rivalry between Woody and Buzz. The writing in it is strong in that there is no real villain between the two. No matter how angry or what extents the two go towards one another, they still feel like the same characters. It’s just a form of jealousy that many can relate to: trying to be the favorite of a group or individual. And it leads to some great comedic and sometimes even heartfelt moments between the two. The idea of the space ranger upstaging the cowboy is also a good nod to how trends come and go.
For the most part the animation still holds up. The textures on the toys look well enough and work really well with CG animation and this is something that would only improve with time. However the human characters and the dog Scud look somewhat awkward. The humans sometimes look as plastic as the toys do and the dog doesn’t really look so much as a dog or even a vicious one.
Woody is a likable character enough. Even though he tries to sabotage Buzz we still see the care he has for his fellow toys and does his hardest to help them out. This makes it understandable when Buzz is getting all the attention and suddenly it feels like nothing Woody has done matters. At first he only wants Buzz back so the other toys won’t think Woody killed him. But Woody accepts that Buzz is a far better toy and that he brought this mess to both of them upon himself. A lot of the film’s comedy is derived from Buzz thinking during the first third of the film that he is an actual space ranger. But it goes into some moving territory once Buzz figures out the truth. The other side characters like Hamm, Rex, and Mr. Potato. Head are funny side characters and have unique and distinct personalities. Sid is rather one dimensional in his motivation but he has fun yet disturbing villain in all the various ways he finds to torture toys.
Toy Story easily gave Pixar a massive kick-start into the world of animation. The animation itself may be a tad rough around the edges, but even that was ahead of its time. The characters and writing work in such a way that you can really connect to it. And this was only the start of what was to come.