News

Our stories of 'Toy Story': Revisiting an instant classic

The Dallas Morning News
(MCT)

"Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" opened in theaters Friday as a double feature for a two-week limited engagement. When the first film was released in 1995, it was the first feature to rely entirely on computer-generated imagery, what we now (some affectionately, some not) call CGI.

We take a walk with Disney down memory lane, just before the holiday rush on Woody and Buzz and months before the scheduled release of "Toy Story 3" next June.

—Dawn M. Burkes

———

As "Toy Story" unfolded on the big screen, I was caught up in its realness — so much so that it took awhile before I turned to check on my nephews. They were almost too quiet, and as anyone who's dealt with young children knows, that usually spells trouble. I watched them, too, for a while, turning from the screen, to them, and back again, just in time to see Buzz Lightyear take a tumble into the bushes, and — wait one minute — are those real leaves?!

And that's when it happened.

One of the boys turned to me and said in his best little stage whisper, with a mixture of delight and reproach: "I thought you said this was a cartoon."

I smiled and nodded my head in agreement, laughing at the realization that Pixar's work here was done. And, after seeing "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" again in one sitting with a 10-minute intermission, I now know I was right. Pixar's work there WAS done; this rerelease in 3-D has more to do with gaining new fans in time for the Christmas rush and the release of "Toy Story 3" than any artistic vision of what could be accomplished with the addition of 3-D. The effect didn't add much to an already great movie of any genre — forget the categorization of animation and buddy film.

Maybe that's because it didn't need to add anything. The movie, written by a cast of animated characters including geek god Joss Whedon ("Dollhouse"), was already remarkable in that it enthralled everyone, with a wink to the grown-ups in the audience — no tricks needed.

—Dawn M. Burkes

———

When the original "Toy Story" came out in 1995, I was a 20-something guy with a love of classic animation. I recall thinking, "This changes everything."

As the revamped version arrives in 2009, I am a middle-aged guy with three active kids. I don't recall much.

But I do know that when one of the "Toy Story" movies is on at my house, I find it almost impossible to not sit down and watch with my kids. It's not the technology anymore — what seemed cutting-edge then now seems quaint, in the same way that whatever 3-D effects they add this year will look dull a decade from now. It's not the clever references to the toys of my youth, either, although I do always end up wondering what happened to my big box of little green army men.

What draws me to the movie are the same things that draw anyone back to any genuine classic: Imaginative storytelling. Wonderful characters. Universal themes about friendship and loyalty. Abundant humor, sometimes with an edge.

It's stuff that Walt Disney himself would have understood and respected. And it's what will continue to make people sit down and watch for years to come, in whatever dimension they decide to show it.

—Michael Merschel

———

When "Toy Story" came out, my son Sam was 4 years old, his brother David was 2 and I don't know if the boys were more excited or I was.

I do know that we had to feverishly collect all the "Toy Story" toys we could afterward and how difficult it was to locate a Buzz Lightyear for the holidays. We ordered it from the Disney Store at Disneyland and anxiously eyed the mail, hoping it would arrive in time — and it did. And when Sam opened his gift-wrapped box, it was like reliving Andy's excitement in the movie.

All the emotions of 14 years ago rushed back to me at the new 3-D versions of "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" (which came out four years after the first, to my boys' delight). Back then, much of the attention focused on the stunning CGI animation that made everything seem so real. But I don't think it would have held up as beautifully as it has if it had not so eloquently told the story of a child's relationship to his toys and the transient nature of childhood (with humor to make the medicine go down).

My boys had gotten it on the level that recalls the "Velveteen Rabbit" miracle — that belief that you can love your toys to life and they will love you back. And as a parent? Well, now that Sam is in college and David is in high school, the feeling of transience hits me hard, leaving me as forlorn as Jessie in "Toy Story 2," waiting for her child to play make-believe with her again.

Our "Toy Story" toys were long ago boxed up and given away to younger cousins. I miss them right now the way I miss my own boys being little boys. But I hope they will brighten other lives and that the light they brought to my children will sustain them like a little slice of childhood when they least expect it.

—Nancy Churnin


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.

Film

Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.

Music

3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".

Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.