Toy Story 1
John Lasseter's Toy Story
poses the universal and magical question of what do toys do when they are not being played with? Cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Andy's favourite bedroom toy, tries to calm the other toys during a wrenching time of year--the birthday party, when newer toys may replace them. Sure enough, Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) is the new toy that takes over the throne. Buzz has a crucial flaw, though--he believes he is the real Buzz Lightyear, not a toy. Bright and cheerful, Toy Story
is much more than a 90-minute commercial for the inevitable bonanza of Woody and Buzz toys. Lasseter further scores with perfect voice casting, including Don Rickles as Mr Potato Head and Wallace Shawn as a meek dinosaur. The director-animator won a special Oscar "For the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film". In other words, the movie is great.
Toy Story 2 Like the handful of other great movie sequels, Toy Story 2 comments on why the first one was so wonderful while finding a fresh angle worthy of a new film. The craze of toy collecting becomes the focus here, as we find out that Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) is not only a beloved toy to Andy but also a rare doll from a popular 1960s children's show. When a greedy collector takes Woody, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) launches a rescue mission with Andy's other toys. To say more would be a crime because this is one of the most creative and smile-inducing films since, well, the first Toy Story.
Although the toys look the same as in the 1994 feature, Pixar shows how much technology has advanced: the human characters look more human, backgrounds are superior, and two action sequences that book-end the film are dazzling. And it's a hoot for kids and adults. The film is packed with spoofs, easily accessible in-jokes and inspired voice casting (with newcomer Joan Cusack especially a delight as Cowgirl Jessie). But as the Pixar canon of films illustrates, the filmmakers are storytellers first. Woody's heart-tugging predicament can easily be translated into the eternal debate of living a good life versus living for forever. Toy Story 2 was deservedly a huge box-office success. --Doug Thomas
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