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Play With Your Toys 1: Toy Story Revisited

In 1995, I went to the movies to see the newest thing out of Disney.  It was animated by a then small animation company out of Emeryville, California that at one point had been owned by Lucasfilm and specialized in computer animation.  The resulting experience was a movie that I didn't know anything about but ended up being one of the movies I watch on an almost regular basis due to its wonderful blend of drama and humor as well as its nothing short of stunning for its time animation.  The film of course, is Toy Story.

For those not familiar with Toy Story,  we follow Woody (Tom Hanks), a old fashioned cowboy doll who is the favorite toy in his owner Andy's toy collection.  He is the de facto leader of the toys in Andy's room.  The other toys contain some rather familiar faces, like Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) and Slinky Dog (Jim Varney) in addition to some characters who have never been made into toys like Rex (Wallace Shawn) a neurotic T-Rex and Hamm, (John Ratzenberger) Andy's piggy bank.  Woody's sanctity of the room (and his sanity) are disrupted by the arrival of Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), a space ranger action figure who quickly becomes Andy's favorite.  Together, Buzz and Woody learn the value of friendship and teamwork when they end up whisked away in a adventure that takes them from the gas station to the dangers of the house of Sid, Andy's next door neighbor who likes to torture toys.

The appeal to this movie is the writing.  The humor is incredibly clever and funny, and at the same time, when Buzz realizes that he is in actuality not a toy that flies, utterly heartbreaking.  The dialogue is not your standard Disney dialogue, with little or no substance, no, this dialogue actually has moments where you can't believe you just heard what you heard.  Put it like this, these toys are very, very funny as they are essentially adults in a kid's room.  The movie makes you believe that your toys have a life outside of you and come to life when you are not around.  The voice work is excellent and with the actors that I listed above alone it shouldn't be any surprise.  Don Rickles and John Ratzenberger in particular are very funny with their deadpan deliveries of the lines.   

The animation is nothing short of incredible.  If you look at this movie in comparison to the first Shrek film, Toy Story wins out hands down.  Sure this one dates Shrek by no less than five years but on that token, watching the movie now, the animation for Toy Story looks like it had been done yesterday, while Shrek is beginning to show its age..  Put it like this, there is a scene where the army men are on a reconnaissance mission to spy on Andy's birthday party to clue the other toys in on the goings on as to what toys they are afraid they will be replaced with, and the attention to detail from the just the backgrounds alone is nothing short of stunning.  You see chipped paint on the door, you see dirty kid hand prints and other things that helps immerse you into this world even more and make it seem all the more real.   

Needless to say, I can do no more than recommend this first installment of the Toy Story series completely and totally.  It is filled with laughs, and its tremendous heart is very much in the right place.  This movie does not talk down to anyone and it is an excellent movie for both children and adults alike.  It truly is a one of a kind film and really helped pave the road for some of the later films to come out of Pixar, including what is easily one my favorites from their stable and one of my favorite movies in general.  What movie could that be? Well, this is a three part series after all!

Final Rating: 5 out of 5
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