Movie Review: Toy Story

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Toy Story

Rated: G for General Audiences
Recommended for: ages 3 and up
Run Time: 81 minutes

Quick Take: Pixar's animation gives old toys new life -- in a remarkably real way.

Talking Toys Delight All Ages

Clearly, the toys are the stars, but the action takes place against the backdrop of Andy's house and his family, so as you watch, family members of all ages will relate to the story. There's the birthday party in the living room, the meal out at Pizza Planet, and Andy's magical room filled with living, breathing toys. And then there's Sid, the mean dude next door; viewers will see Sid as the kid they're glad they're not, living in a dark, odd room they're glad is not theirs. But the real revelation is seeing the toys in action and relating to each other when they're not being played with. We always knew our toys had heart and soul, we just never grasped how much.

Kids Will Like:
Watching Slinky Dog, Etch-A-Sketch, Mr. Potato Head, Rex (the big insecure green dino), the green Army men, and all the other toys come alive in Andy's room is a visual treat. They look so real! When I first took my then 6-year-old to see the movie, she was enchanted by the distinct personalities of the various toys, particularly Bo Peep, Andy's sister Molly's porcelain doll with a wise personality and soothing voice. 

Parents Will Like:
Like their kids, parents will relish being transported into this rich world of classic toys. For parents, there will be a rush of nostalgia seeing an Etch-A-Sketch or a pull-string doll with personality galore. Parents will appreciate how wonderfully real everything looks in this Pixar classic, the first fully computer-animated feature film ever made. The facial expressions, particularly of Woody and Buzz as they get to know each other, show remarkable depth. But these aren't seasoned actors … they're toys! And then there are plenty of smart references. The fun is in discovering them, but here's one: When the family is riding in their car on moving day, we hear a snippet of "Hakuna Matata" on the car radio. It's a brilliant, calm moment juxtaposed with the chase scene happening just outside. The Lion King – the film which made "Hakuna Matata" a hit and a catchphrase – was Disney's hit in 1994, the year before the Disney/Pixar release of  Toy Story.

Heads Up:
Sid, the kid next door, and his bull terrier, Scud, are menacing characters. When his Big One rocket arrives in the mail, Sid relishes that it comes with an "Extremely Dangerous" warning, and he directs his mean spirit toward helpless Buzz, saying, "I always wanted to put a spaceman into orbit." Scud is Sid's perfect pet, all loud growl and pencil-sharp teeth. Of course, Sid's toys have been manhandled and are a motley, untidy bunch. But Sid's still a kid. Early on the morning that he's scheming to launch Buzz into the stratosphere, he wakes momentarily from a dream and in a little-boy voice says, "I want to ride the pony."

Own It?
Absolutely. With the Toy Story disc on your living room screen, everyone in the family will want to press the "play" button again and again and again.


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