Toy Story (1995)

This review includes full spoilers. Proceed accordingly. For other movie reviews from me, click HERE:

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Rating: G
Director: John Lasseter
Writers: John Lasseter, Peter Docter, Andrew Stanton
Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger
Release Date: November 25, 1995
Run time: 1 hour, 21 minutes


via Wiki:

A group of living toys are preparing to move into a new house with their owner Andy Davis, his sister Molly and their single mother. The toys become uneasy when Andy has his birthday party a week early. Sheriff Woody, Andy’s favorite toy and their leader, sends Sarge and his green army men to spy on the gift opening with a baby monitor. The other toys (which include Mr. Potato HeadSlinky DogRex the tyrannosaurHamm the piggy bank, and Bo Peep the porcelain doll) are relieved when Andy receives nothing that could replace them. Andy then receives a last-minute surprise gift – a Buzz Lightyear action figure who believes he is an actual Space Ranger. Buzz impresses the other toys with his various features and becomes Andy’s new favorite toy, making Woody jealous.

Two days before the move, Andy’s family plans for a dinner at Pizza Planet, where Andy is allowed to bring along only one toy; to ensure Andy chooses him and not Buzz, Woody tries using the radio-controlled car RC to knock Buzz behind the desk, but accidentally knocks him out a window instead. The other toys (except for Bo and Slinky) believe Woody deliberately tried to kill Buzz, but Andy arrives and takes Woody before they can exact revenge. A furious Buzz stows away in the car, and confronts Woody when the car stops at a gas station on the way to Pizza Planet. The two fight, fall out of the car, and are left behind.

After a further argument, the two hitch a ride on a Pizza Planet delivery truck and sneak into the restaurant. Buzz mistakenly believes a claw crane full of Little Green Men to be a true rocket, and Woody climbs in after him. Andy’s sadistic next-door neighbor Sid spots and captures the two and takes them to his house, where they encounter his Bull Terrier Scud and his much-abused “mutant” toys made from parts of other toys he has destroyed.

As Woody tries finding an escape route, Buzz is shocked by a TV commercial that reveals he is indeed a toy. He attempts to fly, but breaks his arm off and falls into despair. After Sid’s toys fix Buzz, Sid returns and tapes Buzz to a rocket, but a thunderstorm forces him to delay the launch until the next morning. Overnight, Woody helps Buzz realize that his purpose is making Andy happy, restoring Buzz’s resolve. Sid takes Buzz out to launch him, but Woody rallies the mutant toys to frighten Sid into never harming toys again, freeing Buzz.

Woody and Buzz pursue Andy’s moving truck, but Scud sees them and gives chase, biting Woody. Buzz fights off Scud, while Woody, freed, climbs into the truck and pushes RC out, using him to distract Scud and rescue Buzz. The other toys, thinking Woody is now trying to get rid of RC, toss Woody back into the street. Having escaped Scud, Buzz and Woody pursue the truck on RC, and the other toys spot them coming and realize their error. During the chase, RC’s batteries run out, forcing Woody to ignite the rocket still strapped to Buzz. As they launch towards the truck, they become airborne, and Woody drops RC into the truck. Buzz opens his wings to sever the tape just before the rocket explodes; he and Woody glide over the truck and fall through the sunroof of Andy’s car, landing safely beside Andy.

At Christmas, in the new house, Sarge and his men spy on the gift opening again while the other toys wait. Mr. Potato Head is delighted when Molly gets a Mrs. Potato Head, and Woody and Buzz jokingly ponder what gift could be “worse” than Buzz, only to nervously smile at each other when Andy gets a dachshund puppy.


It’s actually difficult to believe that the first Toy Story movie is almost 30 years old. Usually, with an old film or television show, you get that initial jarring reminder of its age by how young the actors look. Animation does not provide that. Cowboy Woody and Buzz Lightyear look exactly the same today as they did in the mid 1990s.

Toy Story can’t really be that old, can it?

Like an old toy, still in its original box, the movie does not look or sound old, except in some hard to define ways, wherein you just know innately that things are not made this way anymore. Aesthetically, the first film in this franchise could have been made three years ago instead of nearly thirty years ago. The animation still looks really god. The music is still charming. The voice actors are fantastic. The jokes are funny even if a few of the pop-culture based jokes are lost on a young audience. (Those jokes were lost on their original audience, too.) The plot, set in suburbia, and concerning a family move, is still an entertaining and relatable adventure.

One thing you often run into with “kid” movies that are as old as this one, is that the plots often surprise you by being notably less kid-friendly than you remember. That is a little bit true here. In this movie, we get Woody “murdering” Buzz Lightyear. This might be a bit much for very young children, but I think most kids of elementary school age and up could handle it – given that they know immediately that Buzz is fine. The tension comes from his toy friends not believing him and being right in not believing him. That’s a complex set of circumstances and emotions for a young viewer to process. The primary antagonist in the film is a kid named Sid who blows up his toys. This aspect might be too dark for very young, or emotionally sensitive kids. Sid’s bedroom, in particular, might be scary for young viewers, given the monstrous looking toys we meet there, and the fear they create in him when they “break the rules” and talk to him might also be too much for many kids. Bo Peep’s interactions with Woody are sultry and suggestive, but they infer without stating anything outright. I think those lines would probably go over the heads, or unnoticed, by most kids.

The subsurface difference between Toy Story, and a more modern G-rated kids movie, is tonal. There is a lot more cynicism and name-calling in the movie that you would probably not see as much of today, and the humor is built around that to a great degree. In the present, kids’ humor is often built more around innocent goofiness and silliness, not calling another character an idiot. It’s not that silliness is absent from Toy Story, it’s just that the balance of its humor types is probably the inverse of what I would expect from something made today.

The story itself is relatively straight-forward, with a “we’re lost, but find our way home” narrative. Buzz and Woody have character arcs that begin with rivalry, but then grow into friendship and teamwork when neither can get home on their own. That positive change is standard in a kid-centric story but does not begin in earnest until near the very end of the movie. Most of Andy’s toys do not participate in that arc – to a point wherein they believe Woody is a murderer and refuse to believe him or help him during his Buzz rescue efforts.

I mention all of the above not to be negative, but to help pinpoint an ideal and precise bottom age range for the viewing audience. I think this story is probably more of an “Ages 8 and up” tale than an “Ages 5 and up” one.

At the time, it was a unique idea to give adult personalities and personas to toys. Some of the story’s cynicism and style likely derives from that fact. The adult toys characters talk to each other as adults who are doing a job. However, and to the story’s benefit, the fact that the characters are “adults” helps to soften the emotional blow for things like Sid’s toy deaths and Buzz’s temporarily lost arm. This plot approach gives a lot of heart to the story. The toys are taking care of Andy in the way that his parents might – even if they are a bit petty and competitive in how they do it.

For the kids who are in the right age bracket, it’s a great movie. The story illustrates the value of teamwork, trust, and friendship. There is nothing in the movie that is likely to traumatize a child for the rest of his or her life (a break from the Disney film tradition.) This is an important point, I think. It’s a good enough story to keep an adult entertained, but it avoids trying to shoehorn in an adult-level emotional manipulation that is too big for its intended small audience. An adult story might need a great tragedy, or a soaring triumph, but those things should be out of place with a children’s story.

As an adult, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. The story is easy to follow, with lots of laughs, good action, and tight pacing. Having the two main characters be a cowboy, and an astronaut, felt like an invitation for audiences of all ages (American in particular.) The story delivered a ton of nostalgia on two different levels – both in and of itself, as a now fairly old but still familiar movie, and also for my even more ancient personal childhood of which it reminded me. With the above cautions in mind, I also think Toy Story is a great movie to watch with your kids. If you haven’t seen it in a while, I definitely recommend you check it out.

Let me know what you think!