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77. EMPIRE MAGAZINE GREATEST: Toy Story

March 22, 2018

Director: John Lasseter
Screenplay: Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, John Morris, Erik von Detten
Runtime: 81 Minutes

 

Original UK Release: 1995

 

★★★★★

 

The first ever wholly computer-animated feature film from Pixar, Toy Story is something that speaks to a child’s perspective and tunes itself into the mindset of how a child interacts with the things that they hold dear; their possessions. As cynical and corporate as it might sound as a pitch, it holds a special place in the hearts of those young enough to remember a time when making up worlds and characters with scenarios of their own imagination mean more to them than what the toys they are given represent from a corporate angle.

 

Even taking into account the ravages of time to the advancement of computer-generated effects and animation, the plasticity of the characters allows them to age more gracefully than something more recognisably flesh and blood, and its designs stand out as distinct and instantly recognisable in a crowd of similar looking protagonists and characters in the field. But beside this being a great looking and visually detailed film, the story and tone are what really set this apart from the rest.

 

Its mood is considerably darker and more jaded than many other pictures that Disney have released under their banner, especially for such a bright and colourfully attractive summer release. The theme of replacement and delusions of grandeur are played on heavily by its two leads, Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). Caught in a conflict that allows their small world of the bedroom of their owner, Andy (John Morris), to feel like something much larger, and the towering world around them makes a familiar environment alien to its spectators as the frame is localised primarily from the toys perspectives.

 

The communal inner-workings of the toys and their society is a sly satire on both office and community life, giving each of the side toys their own characters and places within their created universe, conforming to the needs of their benevolent owner. It’s as they venture out of their safe space into the outside world, even just across the street, that the film offers up its visual horrors in the bedroom of sadistic next-door neighbour, Sid (Erik von Detten). While a detour into an arcade also features one of the greatest representations of a divine power ever put to film; “The Claw”.

 

But besides the ingenious setup, the storytelling is remarkable with some of the most unforgettable moments in cinema history. From its characters and dialogue being perfectly embodied and performed by its vocal cast, to its music by Randy Newman and tremendously exciting set-pieces. It’s pitch perfect in both its targeting and execution.

 

Toy Story holds a special place in the hearts of many people who were shown this at an early age and isn’t a childhood favourite that can be outgrown. The nostalgia goggles can be lifted with this film and it would still be every bit a masterpiece as it was when seen with new and youthful eyes.

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