Disney and Pixar may not have known then what they were doing was not only new, it was a reinvention of the way that animation was done from then on. Or maybe they did, and that was their way of preparing us.
Amazingly, it’s all beside the point. Even if it weren’t the first film in a new era of animation, and the inaugural film of the now gigantic, beloved Pixar, Toy Story would still be — and still is — a fantastic movie.
I’ve literally seen this movie hundreds of times, because as a toddler I used to watch the movie every single day without exception for a year, as my mom recently reminded me. Rewatching it several years later, a lot of it was familiar, but a surprising amount of it was fresh. Three-year-old me really knew what he was doing.
It’s no mystery why this movie would appeal to a young kid. There are lots of silly, loud moments, lots of colourful characters and of course the whole movie revolves around toys, so there’s an entire line of merchandising that comes alongside it (all of which I still own somewhere, probably).
Two decades later, I love this movie for different reasons. It’s really just a very well-written movie, with a lot of heart. The points it makes about friendship, about moving on, about growing up, and about change, are surprisingly honest and not sugar-coated for a young audience.
But in terms of pure fun and entertainment, I can now sit there and watch, in awe, its clever wordplay and rapid-fire riffing. I can now understand the subtle and seamless references to the likes of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, and The Shining. As a kid, I was constantly rooting for Woody; as an adult I was constantly applauding the brilliant one-liners they gave Mr. Potato Head. Getting Don Rickles to immortalize his infamous catchphrase to an actual hockey puck? This movie is just the best.
This may be a tribute to the original film, but I would be remiss to ignore its sequels. Just make sure you plan properly when you go marathon the series immediately after finishing this article. Cinephiles take note: the Toy Story trilogy is the rare series that is consistent all the way through. Toy Story 2 is just as great, if not a slight improvement upon the first, a feat almost unheard of in the sequel business, let alone one aimed at the family audience. More recently, 2010’s Toy Story 3 perfectly paralleled the growing-up of its original audience and definitely got you choked up, unless, of course, you’re a liar.
Lots has changed in 20 years, definitely in the world of film, but more importantly for you and I and everyone around us. Thankfully, Toy Story remains not just one of the best films of its kind, but one that can be enjoyed time and time again, whether you’re young or young at heart so …
Look, there’s no way I’ll be able to pull this off better than the movie itself, so just go watch.