My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the film is that it is a great start for the CGI platform in animated films; emphasis on great start. I feel like this film is a bit too predictable for my liking, but what makes this film stand out for me is the dynamics between the characters, and how the execution of the story gives a warm feeling. I loke films with subtext, and remove the cheap humor and gimmicks for distractions.
The production for this film is extremely lengthy, so I am going to try and shorten it without leaving out any of the good stuff. Back in the early 1980s, when Disney was working on Tron, and John Lasseter was just an animator, he brought up the idea to make a full-fledged CGI film, which was rejected, and he was fired. Pixar was created in 1986 after he went to work with Lucasfilm, and Pixar was purchased by Apple.
The initial script involved Woody being the main villain, as he was this horrible tyrant that everyone needed to overthrow, but the execs found it to be harsh, and demanded the film to be more of a buddy-buddy film. This demand was made in 1991. Many of the characters went through many different revisions and cuts before we got to the final versions of the characters that are in the film as we know it.
With the script being approved by Katzenberg in early 1993, casting was then the next step. Tom Hanks was always the intended voice actor for Woody in Lasseter’s eyes, though there was consideration from Paul Newman. Billy Crystal was approached to be cast for Buzz, but he turned down the role. Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, and Bill Murray were also considered, before Tim Allen was finally given the role.
Every few weeks, Katzenberg and co. went to visit Pixar to check on the film and to take notes on the progress, and what has been deemed the “Black Friday Incident” took place on November 19, 1993, where the board ripped apart the film for being the most mean-spitired film they have ever seen, and demanded production to be stopped. Pixar begged them to give them two weeks to repair the film, which was granted. The film was waken under the hands of Walt Disney Animation Studios, but the issue was that the film was becoming too sanitized, and Pixar had no input, until they created another script 3 months later, which was approved.
The film starts with a montage song called “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”, where a little boy named Andy (John Morris) is playing with his favourite toy named Woody (Tom Hanks). We soon learn that the family is moving, and when Andy goes away, Woody wakes up like the rest of the toys around him, and we learn that they have their own little world. When humans come around, they go static and pretend like they have no sense of motion, thinking, or speaking ability. They take up the next 10-15 minutes just setting up the interactions between the toys, and to show how Woody is the leader of the toys.
He tells them that Andy’s mother (Laurie Metcalf) moved his birthday party to today because the move is next week, and wants to get the party done with before the move. It is a smart thing to not make the humans faces seen a lot for a few reasons. One is because it sets up the atmosphere for the toys better (like what was done with Lady and the Tramp), and the second is because the humans are fucking hideous to look at. They don’t look like humans.
Buzz is trying to build his ship before Woody starts to lash out at him in jealousy and annoyance about him believing he is a spaceman instead of a toy. They look through the goggle toy to see the crazy kid next door named Sid (Erik von Detten) torturing and blowing up toys as a clear foreshadow of one of the future plot points. Woody overhears the humans talk about Andy going to a Pizza arcade, and to be chosen over Buzz, he tries to get him stuck in a crate, but it ended up with him getting knocked out the window. Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) calls him out for what he did, and all of the toys turn on Woody, but before they could do anything, Andy takes Woody with him. Buzz follows him to the car, and they finally throw hands to get into a fight, as they fall out of the car.
They are now at his house, and witness him torture and dismantle toys. Once Sid leaves, all of his tortured toys start to wake up, scaring the crap out of Woody and Buzz. What they soon realize is that what they were doing is repair these broken toys to the best of their ability. Buzz Lightyear for some reason has Woody’s holler of him not being a real space champion kept on getting stuck in his head, so he tries to fly from the stairwell to the window, and is utterly shocked, hurt, and so much more when he falls to the floor, and his arm breaks. This is probably one of the only scenes in the film that really touched my heart and soul.
Buzz loses his damn mind, and Woody opens the window that is facing Andy’s room, to get everyone’s attention. They are thrilled to see him until Mr. Potato Head convinces them not to, even though Buzz is with them. He takes Buzz’s broken arm, which causes them to turn on him for good. Buzz is tied to a rocket, and is convinced to save Woody from a crate as he sees the moving truck.
To sum up the climax, the toys save Buzz, traumatize Sid to the point that he will leave the toys alone, attempt to get to the moving truck with some struggle, only until they light the rocket on Buzz to get to the truck. All is forgiven, and they move into the new house. It is Christmas, where Andy is given a Mrs. Potato Head, Woody gets some sugar from Betty Bo Peep (Annie Potts), and Buzz is getting freaked out about getting a new toy.
What I will say is that the main characters go through a lot of emotions, but they are not deep characters, because there honestly is not much to know about these toys; at least not in this film. They do the job just fine though. Since there are too many minor characters who have too little of a role, I will explain some of them here. Mr. Potato Head is just cranky all the time, Bo Peep likes to get it on and be romantic, Slinky (Jim Varney) is really loyal and optimistic, and Hamm (John Ratzenberger) just freaks out I guess.
I get it that this is the first full-fledged CGI film, so I should be a bit easy on the animation in that regard, so I have to take that into account when talking about how it has not aged well AT ALL. They were still trying to get familiar with using certain textures, and a lot of the animation is very blocky, so they used a lot of cut-corners to avoid furthering these issues. The colors are nice, and the overall animation does a decent enough job, especially for dealing with a lot of toys for the main foreground.
The music is decent. It does a good job of narrating the scene and setting up the mood, but you are not going to be gong out of your way to sing or dance to anything in the movie. It kind of gives a neutral, but an out-of-this-world feeling, since it is a higher being singing about he unknown world of toys. It sets up a pattern for Pixar music for the next few films.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on November 22nd, 1995, it became a success, making $191 million domestically, and $181 million overseas, with a worldwide total of $373,554,033. No one from Disney or Pixar thought that the film would be as successful as it was, expecting it to make around $100-200 million at the very most. At the time, it was the 17th highest grossing film domestically, and the 21st highest grossing film worldwide.
It received a huge amount of widespread critical acclaim from critics and audiences alike, praising the voice cast, animation, story, characters, and music. People spoke on how it is the ultimate family picture, and will hold up in history.
In regards to accolades, it was nominated and won a lot of awards. It only won 1 of the 4 nominated categories in the Academy Awards, completely stole the show in the Annies (beating out Walt Disney Animated Studios Hunchback), and took over a bunch of other awards. It has won many awards since the 1996 awards season.
Since it is the first full CGI film, it has to have a huge legacy. With the franchise in itself, they started focusing on a sequel right after, and as of right now, they are working on a Toy Story 4. There has been many TV specials to come out of this film as well. In regards to CGI, it caused a lot of other companies to jump ship to try and compete with Pixar, where CGI has completely taken over animated films in the Americas. The film has only grown within the test of time.
= 31.5/40 = 79%