Thursday, November 15, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Toy Story (1995)

I straight up love the Toy Story franchise, and its taken no small amount of willpower not to start collecting the many, many Toy Story items one can buy at Target.

Yes, the animation from the first installment doesn't always hold up as well as I'd like, but everything about the script, direction and voice acting still works as well today as it did the first time I saw the movie.

Speaking of - so I was in film school in 1995, and my roommate had a bad Thanksgiving break.  I don't remember specifics, but she'd gotten into some tiff with the family.  We went up to the film lab to work on our project and then decided we'd go see this Toy Story thing as it was 9:00 Sunday night and the kids would be skipping that screening as school started in the morning.

The place was still packed.  Curious college kids and others were there, and it was a surprisingly great movie.  But in the mid-90's, there were a lot of surprises when it came to kids' movies.  This was right around when I was telling people "Y'all got to go see this movie, Babe".*  And I knew who Pixar was.  I'd seen some of their shorts.  I just had expected it to have that same hacky vibe one got from all of the installments in the The Santa Clause series.  Harmless, perhaps, but not exactly anything you'd actually recommend to anyone.

But Pixar got it right.  The movie had real character in its made-up world of talking toys, and real things at stake for the characters and even for the unsuspecting Andy.  And the great thing was - they didn't make sequels until they had something to say.  Toy Story 2 built on the world from the first movie and showed us the worst fears of a toy come to life - but kept Jessie's story startlingly human.  And the third film started with the scariest threat of all, only to find the highest highs in any of the three films.

Anyway, I'm a fan.  It's popular entertainment at its best.  We can save the technical discussion for another day.




*If you have anything bad to say about either Babe movie, I will fight you with a pitchfork
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