Vault Movie Review: “Toy Story”
Andy loves his toys, and he has an active imagination when it comes to playing with them. His favorite toy is a cowboy named Woody (Tom Hanks), who is usually the hero of the stories that he comes up with while playing with his assortment of toys. However, the toys have a life beyond Andy’s imagination. When people are not around, toy’s come to life, and in Andy’s room, Woody is the leader.
The toys are happy, and Woody is proud to be Andy’s favorite, but things begin to get tense as Andy’s birthday is approaching. With birthdays come birthday parties, and with birthday parties come gifts, gifts that could always be new toys. Toys like Andy’s fear being replaced and forgotten by new toys. While Woody was not afraid that he would be replaced as Andy’s favorite, a new toy named Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) changes everything. Andy’s cowboy phase seems to have ended, and with it, a new phase has begun, a phase centered around his new toy, Buzz Lightyear. Woody is jealous, and he tries not to make his jealousy known to the other toys, but one lapse in judgement sends the cowboy on a wild adventure to save Buzz Lightyear.
The Pros & Cons
Woody & Buzz (+5pts)
The Toys (+10pts)
The Plot (+3pts)
Pro: Woody & Buzz (+5pts)
The relationship between these two toys was definitely one of the better parts of this story. Woody was Andy's favorite toy for a very long time, and with the introduction of Buzz, Woody's security as the favorite toy seemed to be in jeopardy. He was jealous of all of Buzz's gadgets, and he was jealous of the attention that Buzz instantly got from Andy. Woody loved his role as the favorite toy, but the introduction of Buzz ripped the figurative rug right out from under Woody, and it made Woody's journey an interesting one, as we got to see how he dealt with potentially being replaced.
Then there was Buzz, who was not even aware that he was a toy. He thought he was a space ranger, and he was dedicated to protecting the galaxy. He then had to go through his own journey, as the situations he found himself in forced him to face the realization that everything he thought he knew may have been a lie. Both characters had interesting stories, and they were stories that were intertwined with one another. Both characters went on the same adventure, but had very different perspectives of it. The overall plot of this movie was nothing crazy, but I thought the filmmakers knocked the character development for these two characters out of the park. They were entertaining, but their stories were also interesting, and those stories made this movie a lot more than just a gimmicky kid's movie about toys that come to life when people are not around.
Con: Buzz (-1pts)
Okay, this is me being really nit-picky, but this was definitely a plot hole that I noticed, even when I watched this movie as a kid. Buzz Lightyear did not think he was a toy. He entirely believed that he was a space ranger, yet any time that Andy, Andy's mom, Sid, or any other person came into a room, Buzz froze and pretended to be a toy. It was very obviously a plot hole that the filmmakers did not feel like addressing, which was fine because it was honestly a very minor issue with the story, but it was an issue that popped up frequently enough to at least make it worth mentioning in this review.
Pro: The Toys (+10pts)
I really do not think there is any debate here, but the toys were the best part about this movie. Whether it was they toys' perspective on birthdays, how toys view the kids who play with them, the mindset of toys that are in crane machines, or any one of the other countless, creative ways in which the filmmakers played with the premise of this movie, it was always entertaining. It was entertaining because the filmmakers delivered so many unique moments that worked comedically, but they also made the audience think of familiar things in a completely different way. On top of that, the filmmakers also managed to do all of this while never making it feel like they were relying on the premise in a gimmicky way.
These moments were subtle enough not to distract from everything else that was happening, but they were obvious enough to be entertaining, and they always related to where the characters were in the story and what was happening around them. It went a long way in making this world feel real, and it helped pull the audience into the story in a really fun and entertaining way. Then there was the fun dynamic between all of the toys in Andy's room, and all of the jokes and puns that came along with them. This was a fun movie, and a lot of that fun was due to the toys in the story and the filmmakers‘ ability to play with the premise in a creative and entertaining way.
Con: Convenient (-2pts)
This was definitely an issue, but I think it would be unfair to criticize this movie too harshly for it, seeing as how this movie was a kids movie. Nonetheless, this plot of was absolutely riddled with convenience. Toys got lost and just coincidentally found a car that just so happened to be going exactly where they need to go. Toys got taken by people on their journey home, but coincidentally wound up right next-door to where they needed to be. There were plenty of other examples of convenient writing throughout the movie, which is always a sign of lazy writing, but fortunately I did not think these convenient moments impacted my enjoyment of the movie very much, and they definitely will not impact kids' enjoyment of the movie either. Thus, while the issue wound up on this review, this was really because I could not think of more significant issues to put on here.
Pro: The Plot (+3pts)
I know some think the plot for this movie was too simple. I think if you were to compare the plot for this movie to the plot of the movie's sequels, then it would be fair to say that there was a lot more to the plot of the other movies. That being said, I think the simplicity of the story in Toy Story was one of the movie's strengths. While I agree that this movie's plot was simple, I still thought it was effective.
Woody feared being replaced and his jealousy got the better of him. After a lapse in judgement, he was overwhelmed with guilt and had to spend the rest of the movie trying to undo what he had done, which meant saving another toy. That was really all there was to this story, and the filmmakers had the good sense not to over complicate it. The plot was simple, and I give credit to the filmmakers for not trying to cram more in here.
Con: Inconsistent (-2pts)
Buzz not knowing he was a toy, but still freezing when people were around, was one example of the inconsistencies in this movie, but there plenty more. These inconsistencies were all minor, but they were noticeable. Another example was Buzz whole-heartedly believing he could fly, but the way he proved it to the other toys suggested that he did not actually believe it. Then there was the bravery of Sid’s toys, and various other little inconsistencies throughout the movie. Similarly to the other issues I mentioned throughout this review, while these inconsistencies were definitely all minor, they were noteworthy in a movie with so few other issues.
Grade: B+ (88pts)
I remember loving this movie as kid, so I enjoyed revisiting it on Disney+. Watching this movie as an adult, I realized that one of this movie's strengths was the simplicity in the plot. It was really a story about two toys on a journey back home. One toy, Woody, was faced with the realization that he may not be able to compete with newer toys and may end up being replaced when a newer, better toy came along. The other toy, Buzz, was the newer toy that came along and forced Woody's whole world to change, but Buzz did not even believe he was a toy. The two came together and clashed in a big way. The result left them lost, and needing to get back to Andy, and that was really the extent of the plot to this movie.
It was a simple plot, but the objective was clear, and it was effective. The movie was then filled with plenty of comedic moments that mostly centered around the unique perspective that the toys had regarding things that we would otherwise consider to be very familiar. It was one of those kids movies that was entertaining to kids, but it provided plenty for adults to enjoy as well. There were puns, creative toy-based humor, and it just made this movie a lot of fun to watch, no matter your age. Was this movie perfect? No, I actually think it was lacking a lot of the heart and impact that the later movies in the franchise had. Nonetheless, this was a strong first installment to a now classic animated movie franchise.