Toy Story

As the first fully computer animated feature film and the first cinematic release for PIXAR studios, Toy Story is an important piece of film history. Without its success, we might never have seen PIXAR make it into the 2000s and it could have been some time before computer animation came to fruition as an art form. Luckily Toy Story was a massive success both financially and with critics, proving the viability of computer animation and leading to some of the best films of the last several decades.

Toy Story follows Woody- a sheriff doll- as he struggles to remain the favourite toy of “his child” Andy after the arrival of a Buzz Lightyear action figure. Toy Story is one of the first films I remember watching, and as a result finds itself the foundation of my love for cinema. Though to many Tom Hanks may be remembered as Forrest Gump, to me, he will always be Sheriff Woody… even though, Woody as a character is rather mean and petty in retrospect. You sympathise with him because he is an excellent leader to the rest of Andy’s toys, recalling them by name and informing them of updates in Andy’s life; h appears to be a wonderful sheriff. but upon Buzz’s arrival he is overcome with jealousy and spite, which only grows as the film progresses. You continue to sympathise, because it clearly isn’t easy for him having to face losing the title of “Andys favourite toy” to a toy who doesn’t even believe he’s a toy. Furthermore, he is stranded alone with Buzz through a majority of the movie and eventually befriends him. In short, Sheriff Woody is a victim of the plot, being tossed around at will but in a bizarre way, he almost deserves it.

What interests me the most about this concept is not only how Woody remains likable, but how dark the studio originally wanted to take him. Each feature film seems to have a “moment during production”, be it large or small, and for Toy Story, this moment is known as The Black Friday Incident. On November 19th 1993, with half of the film ready to show, it was screened to executives at Walt Disney Studios. Throughout production they had told PIXAR to make the film edgier, but after watching the film reel they decried that the film was too dark for children and would have to be re-done. In a move that should really be common practice by now, the corporation returned full control of the project to PIXAR who, in turn, produced the form of Toy Story that is now held in such high regard. I would be fascinated to see this Black Friday reel, but sadly only snippets of it exist online. Some of that cynical edge survives in the form of Andy’s neighbour Sid Phillips. This isn’t simply some troubled child, he’s straight up sadistic. He still creeps me out.

After 25 years, the animation now seems a little simplistic. The textures are noticeably flat on occasion and the children all look similar. The outsides of houses are fairly standard and there is a vast lack of them in several scenes. I don’t care though and, given Toy Story‘s continued popularity, neither does anybody else. It isn’t bad animation, it’s simply the very first of its kind. Any lack in visual quality is more than made up for with great writing, memorable characters and me-defining humour. I still call people “uncultured swines” on a weekly basis. Toy Story kickstarted an art form and a studio. I’m very glad to see how fondly it has been remembered. I feel that it will remain a classic for generations to come.

Until Next Time…

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer