Toy Story – I believe this was the first fully computer-animated movie, which was a big deal at the time. I saw it at the movies when it was new, and hadn’t actually watched it again until last night. The idea that toys have a life of their own when people aren’t around is an old one, but the story and characters make it work. That said, I do have some questions about the premise, but I’ll get to those later. The cast includes some brand-name toys, like Mr. Potato Head, a Slinky Dog, and an Etch-a-Sketch.
There are some famous voices behind many of them as well.
Most of the toys we see belong to a kid named Andy, and the cowboy Woody is both Andy’s favorite and the leader. I’m not sure whether these things go together or that was a coincidence. None of the other toys seem to mind his dominance, however. Woody finds his position challenged when Andy receives a new Buzz Lightyear action figure as a present, and the boy starts to favor the new toy.
I’m sure this was intended as symbolic of outer space replacing Westerns in popular culture in the middle of the twentieth century, something that would be highlighted much more in the sequel. For some reason, Buzz is totally delusional, thinking he’s a real Space Ranger instead of a toy. Does this happen to all of these toys when they’re new? The reaction we see implies that it’s unusual, but what makes Buzz special in that respect? Also, he has no problem freezing up and letting Andy play with him. I’d say that’s just automatic, but later events suggest that this isn’t necessarily the case. Anyway, Woody is a total jerk to Buzz for usurping his position, even though the spaceman never actively tries to do so. He tries to push Buzz into the crack between the bed and the wall, but accidentally forces him out a window instead. Both toys end up in the home of Andy’s next-door neighbor Sid, who has a penchant for destroying toys.
Not that he has any idea they’re conscious, but his attitude is pretty disturbing. He also wrecks his sister’s things and plays with explosives. His parents must have given up on him long ago, yet his sister is pretty normal. During their attempts to escape from Sid’s house, Woody learns not to be so much of an ass, and Buzz learns that he’s mass-produced, but that’s okay because someone loves him. They eventually get away by coming to life and scaring the crap out of Sid, which you’d think they would have done earlier. Really, why do the toys keep up the charade of being lifeless? I’d say it’s not by choice, but then why would they be able to break the rules for Sid? Is it because nobody would believe an obviously mentally ill kid? Why does the Etch-a-Sketch work so much better when a person isn’t using it? And what exactly is Bo Peep planning on doing with Woody when she says she’ll get someone else to watch her sheep?
Can toys have sex? Do I even want to know? I guess if it’s sort of inborn (or in-manufactured) for toys not to show signs of life around humans, that explains why it took them so long to think of scaring Sid.
Anyway, Woody and Buzz work together to reach Andy’s mom’s car as she’s driving to their new house, and everything is in readiness for the next film. This movie set the stage for how many future Pixar movies would feature non-human characters. The humans in this movie are rendered in a weird style that would improve over time, not to mention that audiences would get used to them. I’m sure it’s a different experience for kids who grew up with computer-animated movies.