186. Toy Story

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Movie: Toy Story

Release Date: November 22, 1995

Director: John Lasseter

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, John Morris, Erik von Detten.

Tag Lines: “The adventure takes off!”

“Hang on for the comedy that goes to infinity and beyond!”

“Watch out for little green men.”

“I’m a nervous Rex!”

“Don’t yank my string!”

“Buzz off!”

“Guts of steel.”

“Proud to be a vegetable.”

Relevance: Despite being twenty-four years old and married, one of the most anticipated movies for me in 1995 was ‘Toy Story.’ I have always been a “kid at heart” kind of a person, but it was just one of those movies that as soon as I saw the trailer I immediately smiled from year to year. I didn’t care that it was an animated movie, I knew I had to see it. The movie was a huge success with critics (it actually has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and it was the second highest grossing movie of 1995. So lots of people went to see ‘Toy Story’ in theaters. Unfortunately, I did not.

Movies released from November through January are usually my favorite films as they are the “Award ” hopefuls. Award season is my favorite season on the movie calendar followed closely by Halloween season. Unfortunately in 1995 I was working as a retail sales manager for a music and movie store. If anyone has worked in that position, they know that the hours one works goes from a normal forty to forty-four hours a week to crazy insane. Any type of social life is thrown out the window, at least until February. So as much as I wanted to see ‘Toy Story,’ it didn’t happen until it was released as a rental almost one year later.

By the time it was being released, I knew that I was going to be a father of a brand new bouncing baby boy in just a few more months. So instead of my usual renting of the film, I purchased it. I figured I might as well start collecting as many animated movies I could because I knew I would be watching a lot more of them in the near future. However, I didn’t wait to watch the film with my new son. I watched it that day and immediately knew that I was watching a movie that the both of us would enjoy for years to come.

It was such a lovely, charming, funny and innovative film. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. What I loved most about the movie was how much it took me back to my childhood when I played with my toys. We all were an Andy at one point of our lives. My toys weren’t necessarily Woody (insert penis joke here) or Buzz Lightyear. Mine were more GI Joe and Star Wars figures. But the imagination was the exact same. I can’t tell you how many times I had all of my “guys” in certain scenarios with the bad guys versus the good guys. The good guys always won of course, as it should be. It kept me occupied for hours on end. When I was watching Andy, I was basically watching me.

The voice actors in the movie are what made it even more extra special than it already was. Led by the always terrific Tom Hanks, the ensemble was perfection. ‘Toy Story’ was one of the best voiced animated features I had ever seen. Everyone was so strong and each had their moment to shine front and center. And boy did they. The movie immediately became one of those movies that I quoted all of the time. “What’re you lookin’ at, ya hockey puck?” There were so many great one-liners in the movie performed flawlessly by the talented cast.

I eventually watched ‘Toy Story’ again once my son was born early that next year. In fact, I have watched it hundreds of times with him since birth right through twenty-three years. It is a movie that neither of us get tired of watching. ‘Toy Story’ is more than just a movie, it has become one of the most beloved franchises of all time. My son and I have seen all of the sequels and have enjoyed them as well (one of them will be making its way on this list later this year), but there is nothing quite like the one that started it all. “To infinity, and beyond.”

Today’s Thoughts: There are certain movies that just don’t get dated or old. When you watch them, it’s like no time has passed and you are watching it for the very first time. ‘Toy Story’ falls into that rare category. It is hard to imagine that ‘Toy Story’ is now twenty-five years old. It feels like yesterday. I have seen the movie so many times over the years. I actually just watched it over the 2019 holiday, but I was still excited to watch it again today.

As mentioned before, this has to be one of the greatest voice casts ever assembled. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen really do make a great comedy team and their scenes together (although probably recorded separately) are both heartfelt and humorous. They have to be considered one of the greatest pop culture duos since Lucy and Ethel, Felix and Oscar or Batman and Robin. The rest of the cast follows suit marvelously. Don Rickles, Annie Potts, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn and John Ratzenberger are all wonderful and provide many laughs throughout the film. It’s a touching movie with a great message, but it is also one of the funniest comedies ever.

‘Toy Story’ is a classic animated movie that entertains both children and adults alike. It is a movie that you can watch alone as an adult or watch with a child and the laughter will be equally hearty in both scenarios. I can’t imagine this movie, its sequels or the entire franchise ever feeling like it doesn’t belong in the pop culture zeitgeist.

Awards: Academy Award for Special Achievement, John Lasseter (winner), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Josh Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow, John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Joe Ranft (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” Randy Newman (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score, Randy Newman (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” Randy Newman (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects, Ellen Ostby, William Reeves (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Animation, John Lasseter (winner), National Film Registry (2005), PGA Award for Special Award of Merit, Bonnie Arnold, Ralph Guggenheim (winner).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Disney+, DVD Availability.

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