This is the movie that started it all in so many ways -- for the series, for Pixar, and for advancements in computer animation, and for me personally, one of the very first movies I had ever seen in theaters. Nearly two decades later, I still can't get enough of it, and I love what the third installment became (check out my review of Toy Story 3!).
In 1995 Pixar released their first film. A movie about toys that came to life whenever you left the room. At the time it was ambitious because there hadn't really been a movie done that was made entirely out of CGI. Granted, several movies made use of the effect, but Toy Story was, at the time, truly astonishing to look at. Nowadays the CGI looks rather dated, but for me, I never grew out of that, "It's totally computer animated," stage. I suppose … more
This isn't just one of Pixar's best movies... it is, perhaps, one of the best animated movies of all time. It's one of the few movies that manages to get just about everything right without making the audience feel like they missed something and can reach out and appeal to just about everyone.
There is greatness in film that can be discussed, dissected, and talked about late into the night. Then there is genius that is right in front of our faces--we smile at the spell it puts us into and are refreshed, and nary a word needs to be spoken. This kind of entertainment is what they used to call "movie magic," and there is loads of it in this irresistible computer animation feature. Just a picture of these bright toys reawaken the kid in us. Filmmaker John Lasseter thinks of himself as a storyteller first and an animator second, much like another film innovator, Walt Disney.
Lasseter's story is universal and magical: what do toys do when they're not played with? Cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Andy's favorite bedroom toy, tries to calm the other toys (some original, some classic) during a wrenching time of year--the birthday party, when newer toys may replace them. Sure enough, Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) is the new toy that takes over the throne. Buzz has a crucial flaw, though--he believes he's the real Buzz Lightyear, not a toy. Lasseter further scores with perfect voice casting, including Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head and Wallace Shawn as a meek dinosaur. The director-animator won a special Oscar for "the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film." In other words, the movie is great.--Doug Thomas