[box cover]

Toy Story: Tenth Anniversary Edition

Pixar's revolutionary Toy Story (1995) will be duly recorded in movie history as the first-ever computer animated feature film, but such a claim for posterity seems superficial compared to the movie's more immediate universal appeal. Toy Story's greatest, most notable success is its transcendence of genre into a full-fledged classic. Tom Hanks provides the voice of cowboy doll Woody, the favored toy among many belonging to typical suburban seven-year-old Andy. Woody dutifully marshals his fellow toys to enthusiastically deliver maximum enjoyment to their faithful owner, but his proud professionalism faces a severe test when a new birthday toy, action-packed spaceman Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), who, with his flashing laser and spring-action wings, instantly supplants Woody as Andy's number one plaything. Jealous and hurt, Woody connives to misplace Buzz and regain his rightful place before Andy's family moves to a new house. Aside from its proficient humor and creative storytelling, Toy Story importantly challenged the Disneyfied role of animation in feature film. Although under the Disney umbrella itself, Toy Story broke Mouse Kingdom's narrative mold: Set outside of the fairy tale milieu and not a musical, the movie doesn't even have a conventional villain (the nasty, toy-torturing next door neighbor Sid is peripheral to the main conflict between the movie's two heroes, Woody and Buzz). In other words, Toy Story is a mainstream, contemporary grown-up comedy that's also for kids, which is a pretty neat thing to be. In addition to the sophisticated story, adults will enjoy the many fond references to toys of their own childhood: Mr. Potato Head, Slinky, Etch-a-Sketch, Green Army Men, etc. Cleverly, the Buzz-Woody conflict represents the change of guard from old-fashioned toys to the post-Star Wars action-figure craze, a transition more than few parents have lamented while Christmas shopping. The movie's only weak point is its cheap-sounding songs by Randy Newman, the most maudlin of which overwhelms a moment that would otherwise be unusually emotionally touching for animated film. Thankfully, the songs are few, and this obtuse moment aside, Toy Story is flick parents can enjoy as their children re-run them relentlessly. Directed by John Lasseter, with that rare, high-quality screenplay by committee, including Lasseter, Peter Docter, Andrew Stanton, Joe Ranft, Joss Whedon, Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow. Other character voices are provided by Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, Laurie Metcalf, R. Lee Ermey, and Penn Jillette.

*          *          *

Disney's "Tenth Anniversary" edition of Toy Story presents the movie in a perfect anamorphic transfer (1.77:1) boasting the highest bit-rate ever used for a Disney DVD release. The audio is available in DTS and remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 EX. On Disc One, the feature is preceded by a brief introduction and the short featurette, "The Legacy of Toy Story," which is accompanied by a commentary with Lasseter, producers Ralph Guggenheim and Bonnie Arnold, Stanton, Docter, art director Ralph Eggelston, and supervising technical producer Bill Reeves.

Disc Two has some good extra bits, even if it isn't exactly overflowing with goodies. A short "making-of" featurette details both the origins of the story and the realization of the pioneering animation, with glimpses of storyboard meetings and the stages of animation through the movie's five-year production process. This features interviews with Lasseter, Hanks and others. A new "Filmmakers Reflect" segment gives Lasseter, Stanton, supervising animator Pete Docter and story supervisor Joe Ranft a chance to informally reminisce about the production. A deleted-scenes reel (19 min.) of partially animated segments features a few sequences cut for content and pacing, but also includes "mistakes" — scenes that the filmmakers originally thought were great ideas but which fell flat closer to realization, and many of which tend toward the unsettlingly grim. (A few of the deleted scenes would later be incorporated in Toy Story 2.) An additional "Behind-the-Scenes" segment focuses on the movie's design. On each sub-menu, click on the star at the bottom of the menu for amusing alternate takes and gags. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

Back to Quick Reviews Index: [A-F] [G-L] [M-R] [S-Z]

Back to Main Page