[dropcap1]O[/dropcap1]ver twenty years ago Pixar Studios did the unthinkable, bringing toys to life in not only the studio’s first ever theatrical release, but also the first ever feature-length CGI animated film. The film proceeded to change the course of animated film making forever. Directed by John Lasseter and backed by an all-star voice cast including Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz) and John Ratzenberger (Hamm) the film quickly rose to stratospheric success grossing over $361 million worldwide and received three Oscar nominations including Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song for Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” Today a few of BNP’s finest millennials reminisce and pay their respects to one of the most innovative, game-changing and classic animated films of all time.
To infinity and beyond…
Toy Story has always been a movie that I’ll never forget. I believe my favorite aspect of it was how creepy it was and the life lessons it taught us. I love the scene where Woody and Buzz find themselves in Andy’s troublesome neighbor Sid’s house. Sid wore t-shirts with skulls on them and liked to blow things up. His bedroom, creepiest place in the movie, was a chop shop of hybrid toys. You had Roller Bob, who was half driver and half skateboard. Legs is a decapitated doll with a fishing rod body. A “hooker” if you will *clears throat*. Baby Face, my favorite toy in the movie, was an erector set spider with a baby head! I would totally have Baby Face as a toy. What’s nice is that Woody discovers that they’re actually all nice, despite how creepy they look. Teaching us not to judge a book by its cover.
Buzz ends up in female clothes for a tea party and then wonders if his original identity was a lie. I love how the Etch-a-Sketch expresses its feelings in pretty dope drawings. Remember the Speak & Spell’s histrionic scroll of “WHAT?” when Woody announces that Andy’s birthday party has been changed to today? Some other great scenes are how Andy uses Slinky the Dog’s coil as a forcefield, how the gang transforms Tinker Toys into a personal gym, and how the GI Joe toys use a baby monitor to give dispatches to the other toys from different locations. Toy Story really gives us an imagination even when we feel like we don’t have one. It has been one of my favorite movies by far. You know what, I think I might go watch again!
Like many of you I watched and loved the first Toy Story film as a child. It’s a Pixar film. It’s target is audience is children. But the themes carried throughout the film were really significant and growing up I noticed that those themes would make their way into my life. Feeling abandoned and feeling jealous? Totally! I remember hitting puberty. Everyone’s bodies were changing, and so were everyone’s interests. Having a gal pal more interested in talking about and admiring boys with another a new friend than spending recess with me in our manga reading/sharing club was devastating at first and difficult to comprehend. Creating new friendships with people different than you? Yes, making friendships with folks who I didn’t immediately click with at first was new and something I’d experience again. Because life is full of coming into contact and interacting with folks who differ from us. Whether that be a different ethnic background or a different cultural one, etc.
Coming through for people aka having a sense of responsibility for and making things right after you messed up? Totally. Through all types of relationships: friendships, family ties and even later down the line, romantic attachments, I learned that is perhaps the most challenging and yet perhaps the most important lesson of them all. Pixar has blessed us with the Toy Story franchise. The original Toy Story film has cemented itself as a classic, many media outlets joked about how young adults, Millennials were most of the audience when the third entry in the franchise came to theatres and they weren’t wrong. How could you NOT see the story through when Woody, Buzz, Jessie and the rest of Andy toys went on what we assumed was their last adventures, especially since they were a part of so many of ours growing up?
Toy Story has always been one of my favorite movies ever since I first saw it in the theaters. Those first days after I saw it and went to Toys R Us only to find out that everything related to that movie was sold out ahhhhh memories. But let’s go deeper into why I enjoyed the movie. When I was younger I enjoyed it because it’s was talking toys, I mean that’s all I needed back then. Talking toys with voices that I recognized from other shows, but as I got older and rewatched it I realized that there was something else about the movie. I couldn’t put my finger on it but it was there, something special. Buzz Lightyear goes through the entire movie thinking that he’s a real Space Ranger, living in another world and believing it. You could say he’s living in his imagination without him knowing it. Fast forward a little and Buzz sees a commercial for himself on T.V. and realizes that he really is just a toy and everything he’s believed in until that point wasn’t reality. He tries to fly but ends up falling which was a comedic scene but it’s a little sad too because he really thought he could fly. He breaks his arm and falls into a deep sadness.
Now pause that part because the other reason I love this movie is because of Sid’s toys. They’ve all been taken apart and put back together in horrible ways and because of this Woody and Buzz are scared of them. They capture Buzz and Woody assuming the worst. They fix Buzz’s arm and they’re actually all really nice and helpful despite what they’ve been through and their owner. Even though Buzz isn’t a real space ranger with everything that he’s learned and from what Woody tells him he has hope that he can bring true happiness as a toy and Buzz has a new outlook on his life.
With this in mind Buzz and Woody become friends and Buzz no longer is living in his imagination and in his own world but instead opens up his world and lets others into it. Alone he couldn’t fly, but after help from everyone he’s met he ends up soaring through the air in a way he never could do alone. Buzz’s story in that movie has helped me in my life more than I realized and I’ll always appreciate Toy Story for that.
Now pretty personal story here, but the first time I saw this movie in theaters would be the last time my parents were together before they split. I still remember my parents taking 4 year old self, my younger half sister and my cousin to see the film, followed by a trip to Burger King for dinner afterwards, followed by the tension-filled drive home as we sat in the back playing with the toys we gotten from BK completely unaware to what was happening. Then that was it, after that night my parents decided their estranged and complicated relationship was no longer worth salvaging and after that day my father never came to see my mother and I anymore.
Even as I would later hear about the new children he had popping up here and there, it was hard not to be jealous that he would go and check in on them yet I wouldn’t hear from him again for at least another decade. Like Woody felt in the film, I felt lost and forgotten. It was a tough time in my life, so of course I acted out a lot, became reclusive, standoffish, and unsociable. When I wasn’t chatting it up with my endless supply of imaginary friends, I could be found parked in front of the television for hours on end by myself watching the film. Now I know what you’re probably thinking and yes even though in this situation even the slightest mention of the film would have been triggering for some, in all honesty I was really in love with the movie (after all it wasn’t the film’s fault).
The VHS got constant burn in the Williams household and when I finally got an up to date console of my own one of the first games I owned for the Sega Genesis was the video game adaptation (which to this day for the life of me I still can’t beat). As a kid, Buzz Lightyear was one of the coolest motherfuckers on Earth at the time who wasn’t named Bart Simpson. So imagine my surprise after what had to have been damn near months of constant badgering when my mother finally decided to buy me a Buzz Lightyear of my own with the stipulation that if I got my act together I could continue to keep it. Fam, I took this thing everywhere with me, pressing the voice buttons all hours of the damn night, popping the wings out every ten seconds and throwing it down flights of stairs (when my mom wasn’t looking of course).
With the help of family and this extraordinary piece of cinematography I was finally able to cope through one of the toughest stages in my life and come out the other side stronger and unscathed. Because of Toy Story I was able to enjoy my youth and not let the darkness grab hold of me. This really is a magical film and I can’t thank the good folks at Disney and Pixar enough for bringing these characters and their crazy antics into our lives.
Thanks for everything Pixar!