Jan 23, 2013

Toy Story (1995)

What is it about Pixar? Is it the characters, the look, the stories? Obviously, it's a combination of all of these things.  Pixar Animation is what the film industry could use more of, and that's exactly what I was thinking ever since I was a kid and first saw, Toy Story (1995) directed by John Lasseter.

It's still amazing to me to think about how computer animation sprung up into the mainstream, created a new visual form of storytelling, and revolutionized the landscape of modern cinema just during my own childhood.  It was clear from that first feature length computer animated film about toys that came to life, that Pixar was on to something that was going to change everything. 

I've got to be honest though, technological innovation aside, at 11 what made the movie resonate was the brilliant cast of toys and how they were personified and crafted into a completely original and imaginative world.  We all used to bring our toys to life when playing with them, and the concept wasn't merely captivating, it was entirely relatable to the kid in all of us.  It's why I still love the movie as an adult, and probably why I appreciate it even more now that I understand the work that's gone into making it.  

It's unbelievably rare for a studio to release success after success as is the case with Pixar.  If it can be attributed to anything, it's that they actually take the time to polish and refine their concepts. Stylistically they continue to push the envelope and tell creative stories full of adventure and heart, which makes it tough to pick a favourite among the bunch.  From toys to cars to monsters and fish, it's like they've found a way to tap into all of these brilliantly thematic worlds and add their own flavors.

I love that Toy Story demonstrates how a movie can appeal to all ages without sacrificing emotional investment.  That originality isn't simply about being different, it's about breathing new life into basic concepts, like friendship and love, when they've become so familiar and exhausted by the same story lines. Pixar seems to understand that a little bit of heart and style can go a long way. 

Pixar has really mastered the art of creating endearing and honest characters.  Buzz and Woody are no doubt at the top of that list, and their rivalry and eventual friendship is born out of a genuine conflict and very real emotions.  The desire to feel wanted and dealing with jealousy have rarely been addressed so powerfully in such an innocent way.

Quite simply, I could watch this movie a hundred more times without getting bored.  I felt bonded to Pixar at an early age, and the quality of their work has maintained my interest all of these years later.  With nods to my childhood and concepts that spark my imagination, films like Toy Story aren't merely for kids, they're genuine classics. 

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