Toy Story (1995)
November 16, 2015 1:33 PM - Subscribe

A cowboy doll is profoundly threatened and jealous when a new spaceman figure supplants him as top toy in a boy's room. Starring Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head.

(I just saw this movie for the first time last night)
posted by growabrain (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I remember going to see this in theaters, I think we may have gone as part of a family celebration of my 10th birthday because I associate the movie with getting burgers and we only ever ate burgers out at this one place I liked that we only went to for my birthday. Anyway.

My brother and I sat in the front row and my parents sat somewhere in the middle of the theater. My dad is notorious for falling asleep in movies and also having a very distinctive laugh. Periodically during quiet points in the movie we could hear him snoring, all those rows back. But you know that one scene where Woody is in the back of the Pizza Express truck and gets smooshed up against the window by a bunch of pizza boxes? Apparently dad was awake for that one because we heard his HEUUHH HEUHHH HEUUUUHH thundering over everyone else in the theater. That scene brought our family together like nothing had since Jurassic Park.

In coming years watching the VHS my dad would say "holler at me when Woody's in the back of the pizza truck!" because there was no way he was going to sit and watch a whole movie but he absolutely didn't want to miss seeing his favorite scene.

Also this story is just a spit and polish version of Brave Little Toaster.
posted by phunniemee at 1:44 PM on November 16, 2015 [8 favorites]

Hard for me to be objective about this movie. It was the first film that I took my son to in the theater when he was five years old. He was ten when the second one came out and a college student when the third did and we saw it with him and his girlfriend so I have a hard time separating these films from my memories of parenthood.
posted by octothorpe at 6:10 PM on November 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Saw this in theaters on a date. I don't remember too much about it tbh. Toy Story 2 makes me cry though.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:04 PM on November 16, 2015

I remember how stunning this was at the time. It's kind of the Snow White of CGI animation, in terms of how revolutionary it was. (Although Snow White is timelessly gorgeous, while the CGI in Toy Story looks kind of Playstation One when you see it now.) The script was kind of a revelation for the era too. Disney was in the middle of that 1990s Broadway musical thing and of course all of Disney's competitors were putting out their own attempts to strike it rich with that formula, and then this movie comes out with a whole other look and sensibility. It was grounded and real, in a way that the Disney of the era just wasn't. The bittersweet Pixar tone was there from the start, with characters that were cute enough for the kids yet flawed and funny enough for the adults. The Disney movies got worse as the 90s wore on while Pixar kept cranking out classics, and then that was it for ink and paint.

These days we're deluged with bad CGI family comedies in the Pixar mold, and even Pixar isn't a sure thing anymore. But when you look at their track record, it's just amazing. History may say it holds up to the Disney glory days, when Walt was really cooking.

(Phunniemee, as a former sleep lab tech I can't resist asking you to nag your dad about getting checked for sleep apnea! Falling asleep at the movies and having a loud snore are two common symptoms. For real, he could be having some respiratory problems at night.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:07 AM on November 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

It's the movie that built the studio. The story of the making of Toy Story is nearly as entertaining, with references to Lasseter sleeping on a mattress in his office to keep up with the grueling grind of finishing the movie, on top of rewriting the ending at that. We almost had a completely different movie and the pressure to make it right, to basically keep Pixar alive was all at play.

Pixar lucked out exponentially by casting Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as their main lead voices, both men were able to embody the characters they played perfectly. The rest of the voice casting in general was also great, including the trend setting decision to cast John Ratzenberger, establishing a legacy that stretches across every major Pixar film.

The animation was fresh and dynamic with the CGI offering a perspective to the frame that made regular hand drawn animation feel flat and unimaginative. Not to mention, as Ursula Hitler aptly put it, thrown against what Disney was producing, a succession of lesser returns, traditional animation was in trouble.

The relationship between Jet and Woody was also what sold the movie, with Woody dealing with feelings of inadequacies and being replaced, while Jet pretty much suffered from a degree of existential crisis at realizing that he's not a Space Ranger, but a toy. It's a sophisticated character driving story with a lot of depth. It also had a great script and as much as I at least now groan whenever I hear the name Newman, a timeless movie score.

It's the movie that provided Pixar with the opportunity to change film making forever.
posted by Atreides at 7:29 AM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

The relationship between Jet and Woody

Was this just a brain fart or is he called Jet in some foreign language version of the film?
posted by phunniemee at 7:39 AM on November 17, 2015

NOPE. I had the brain fart. A MAJOR BRAIN FART.

posted by Atreides at 7:42 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

realizing that he's not a Space Ranger, but a toy
This is the one thing that bugs me about this movie. Even while Buzz believes he's a Space Ranger and not a toy, he freezes as a toy when the humans arrive. It has always seemed to me that if he truly believes he's a Space Ranger and not a toy, he'd not do that. He'd be trying to communicate with the strange giant creatures, wouldn't he?

The whole Toy Story world falls apart pretty quickly if you look at it this way [when do the toys become sentient, exactly? Why are there non-sentient toys mixed in?], but still, if Buzz truly believes he's a Space Ranger and not a toy, why does he behave like a toy?
posted by chazlarson at 8:51 AM on November 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

There's got tone some very strong toy instinct to freeze when humans are present. It's not an unbreakable rule, as shown in this move, and being seen by a human isn't actually a big deal like in Henson's The Christmas Toy. You're right, though, Buzz belligerently refusing to be played with is totally in his Space Ranger wheelhouse.

Also, it's amazing that the early treatments of Woody were rejected as being too much of an in likable asshole because even in the final movie he's a terrific jerk.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:32 AM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

The whole Toy Story world falls apart pretty quickly if you look at it this way [when do the toys become sentient, exactly? Why are there non-sentient toys mixed in?], but still, if Buzz truly believes he's a Space Ranger and not a toy, why does he behave like a toy?

Turn Toy Story a quarter turn to the left and you basically have cosmic horror.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:35 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

if Buzz truly believes he's a Space Ranger and not a toy, why does he behave like a toy?

I think it's part of the weird magic that makes the toys alive. When humans can see them, the toys automatically freeze in place. There is the scene later where Woody actually speaks to the mean kid, but I get the impression Woody is somehow violating the toy laws there. Either they just put it in for a joke without considering the broader implications, or it was intentional and Woody is somehow overcoming the freezing that normally overtakes toys around humans. But in any case I don't get the impression that new toys have to be taught to freeze around humans, it just happens.

I get the impression that the toys are usually aware of what's happening when they freeze, but IIRC Buzz isn't aware that he freezes. That's odd. Maybe because he had no knowledge of being a toy, the "toy magic" kicked in extra strong and knocked him out so he would be sure to freeze.

The writers could have saved us a lot of puzzling with a couple of lines:

Buzz: What just happened? I couldn't move!

Woody: That's what happens, whenever toys are around humans. We freeze!

But they didn't do that, so fans are left with our half-baked theories about how it works.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:07 PM on November 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sad news: I was going to link to the epic, full-length live-action version of Toy Story a couple of guys did, but apparently Disney took it down a few weeks ago. The director's commentary version is still up, for now. The whole thing is a truly amazing work of pure nerd love.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:13 PM on November 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

That live action one got linked to the Blue before, I think. Odd that it'd be taken down now, after all this time.

I once spent some time trying to work out rules for the toy freezing thing for a Toy Story world RPG idea. I wonder if my notes are still floating around.
posted by JHarris at 6:49 PM on November 17, 2015

He posted a video about the takedown. Apparently Disney objected to PART of the video, on the grounds that it used the actual audio from the film. I wonder, if these guys did a dub using their own audio, would that be enough to placate Disney's lawyers? It's got to be kind of heartbreaking to put SO MUCH WORK into a fan project only to see it yanked off the web like that.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:17 AM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I watch this movie in the regular since I have small kids. It holds up.
posted by bq at 6:40 PM on November 18, 2015

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