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  • Writer's pictureCollin Souter

Week # 45: "Toy Story"

(Originally published on 1/26/23, an oversight)


Toy Story

Run time: 81 min.

Release Date: November 22, 1995.

Where/when I first saw it: In the theater. Not sure where.

How I watched it today: Blu-ray, Sunday afternoon

Twenty-seven years have gone by since Disney/Pixar released the first “Toy Story,” which showed the studio made the wisest investment during this period by expanding their output and putting it in the hands of young, innovative dreamers. While Disney got lost putting so much effort into a tired formula picture (“Pocahontas”), Pixar leap-frogged several hops into the future by creating an astonishing new world that feels familiar to its young audience (no castles or cute animals) and timeless for all. With a loose and charming score by Randy Newman and flawless voice work across the board, “Toy Story” made everything amazing about it look so easy to pull off. Like “Snow White” and “The LIttle Mermaid” before it–two other high watermarks in the history of animation–much of “Toy Story” gets taken for granted now.

You have to marvel, though, about what the animators accomplished during this time. Yes, the film is the first of its kind, but that doesn’t mean its age causes the film to come up short in the animation department. Look at the shine on Bo Peep’s skin or the detailed, plastic texture of the dinosaur, or the clever reference to “This Shining” by having the villain Sid’s carpet resemble that of the Overlook Hotel. It wasn’t enough for the animators to make the first computer-generated animated feature film, they pushed each other to make a great one that had to set a high standard for all future films in the genre. No matter when one watches it, there is still something amazing to see here.

It also helps that the script remains insanely clever and a joy to listen to. As Woody and Buzz, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen created a perfect buddy-comedy duo that managed to help the audience care deeply about cheap plastic toys. The emotional lift here when these two characters find themselves soaring through the air together hasn’t lost an ounce of its power or joy. Right smack in the middle of the ‘90s, the Disney studio showed it still had new tricks up its sleeve, and just in time. Without Pixar ushering in a new era of animation at this crucial moment, one has to wonder how Disney would have otherwise persevered creatively.


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