To discuss Pixar around this time of the year is rather odd; not just because films from said studio tend to come out during the summer, but because Doug Walker’s Disneycember has returned. So yes, I am guilty of copying Mr. Walker’s idea and format with a Pixar retrospective. But I feel these films are deserving of such attention that another person might venture their opinion over the internet. They’re always a joy to discuss, regardless of quality or the common verdict. Films by Pixar bring people together like few others, which makes them all the more fitting for another person to discuss.
It’s tough to find a movie trilogy as unanimously recommended as Toy Story. Pixar’s first full-length feature took the film industry by storm, literally invigorating animated works at the exact time Disney started slipping with audiences. Toy Story seemed to be that rare film which easily lent itself to marketing while simultaneously proving itself a terrific standalone piece of art. So yes, you could say this film held a certain place in the heart and mind of one silly five-year-old.
A story of toys coming to life when humans aren’t looking is certainly going to ignite interest from less tidy viewers. In fact, I’m almost amazed a similar attempt hasn’t been shoved out, featuring keys, cell phones and wallets in the place of dominantly action figure-esque toys. But I digress.
Quite a number of things make Toy Story work as well as it does. Despite beginning to show age, the world is very believe simply from a design standpoint. The human characters and environmental glimpse we’re offered rings true to our world, taking pointers sans comedic jabbing. Making such a comment is admittedly odd, as this is a film about children’s toys. But said establishments help us believe this story so much more. To a child who’s naturally out of tune with the over-complications of life, this is plausible reality.
There’s just enough surrealism at work to both suspend and compliment our beliefs and knowledge. The fact we have characters this colorful yet honest certainly isn’t of harm to the film, either. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen have one of the best, most realistic and memorable relationships ever put on screen. They’re really at opposite ends of a spectrum while retaining similar fundamentals. Woody and Buzz walk a road of rivalry-to-friendship that goes from initially implausible to completely believable.
To my (recent) surprise, the film is rather short on laughs. Most of these come from the at-times riotous supporting characters, namely Mr. Potatohead, Ham and Rex. Otherwise, this actually feels like a serious drama to a more adult viewer. And this is where I feel Toy Story completely succeeds as a film for all ages. Children get a world that looks fun and feels real, adults get a collection of completely memorable characters fronted by a bonding many of us still need to learn from. I’d be a dead-faced liar in court if I said this is one of Pixar’s more entertaining features, but I’d be just as guilty if I said it isn’t one of their most effective.