Disney teamed up with a little known animation studio called Pixar and took animated films “to infinity and beyond.” “Toy Story” was the first feature-length film of this joint venture and it changed the way animated movies were made and produced 22 movies to date that have all had some degree of success.
2020 marks 25 years since “Toy Story” hit theaters and the characters, music and the film, overall, is just as loved today as it was back in 1995. The characters are still recognizable and have spawned three sequels, two holiday specials and several shorts to give fans another look at Woody, Buzz, Rex, Slinky Dog, Ham, and the rest.
A major reason for this film’s success is the cast. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are two all-time greats whose name on a marquee brings people into films, put them together and tell people it’s safe for the whole family and it might as well have been a license to print money. But, they aren’t the only cast members that were perfect for their characters. Don Rickles is known as a cranky comedian who completely embodied Mr. Potato Head. Rex is meant to be neurotic and Wallace Shawn, of “The Princess Bride” fame, perfectly encapsulates that personality and conveys it to the audience. Plus, John Ratzenberger steps up as the voice of Ham. Ratzenberger is the only voice actor to appear in every single Pixar film to date. It’s been a lucrative partnership, to say the least.
Another classic aspect of “Toy Story” is the music. Randy Newman wrote the score and the soundtrack and he knocked it out of the park. The obvious starting point is the iconic “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” The best songs tell stories and this one perfectly explains both Andy’s joy with his new toy and the friendship blossoming between Buzz and the rest of the toys, with the exception of Woody. Then the score steps in as amazing background to accentuate the poignancy of moments in the film. The best example I can give is the score during the moment Buzz realizes he is not a space ranger, but indeed a toy. You can see the sad realization on his face and the music helps bring out that sadness.
The message of the film is nothing groundbreaking. The two main characters being rivals for someone’s affection only to become friends is almost a trope in movies. It’s a nice switch to see it between two toys over a boy who was going to play with them’s affection rather than two men fighting over a woman, but it’s still old hat at this point. Yet, for the first film in a lucrative partnership, it works. Much like “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is the most important Disney film, “Toy Story” is the most important Pixar film. It’s not the best Pixar film, in my opinion. It’s not my favorite Pixar film. But, it’s still a great film that’s a lot of fun to watch.
Ranking: 4.5 stars out of 5
What did you think of “Toy Story?”