CGI, or the use of Computer-Generated Imagery, offers us the technological breakthrough that brought a host of breakthroughs for the 17th-ranked movie on the listing of the Top 20 Movies ever made. As confirmed with the linked history of CGI story by Computer Stories, Toy Story (1995) in part earns its place in this listing thanks to “being the first fully CGI animated movie.” The rest of the reasoning is the subject of this posting!
As summarized well in the review and summary by Roger Ebert on dating back to November 1995,
“Toy Story” creates a universe out of a couple of kid’s bedrooms, a gas station, and a stretch of suburban highway. Its heroes are toys, which come to life when nobody is watching. Its conflict is between an old-fashioned cowboy who has always been a little boy’s favorite toy, and the new space ranger who may replace him. The villain is the mean kid next door who takes toys apart and puts them back together again in macabre combinations. And the result is a visionary roller-coaster ride of a movie.
With music by Academy Award winner and Rock & Roll Hall-of-Famer Randy Newman, Toy Story starred Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear and Tom Hanks. With writing credits to Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996-2003) fame and to Andrew Stanton of WALL·E (2008) and Finding Nemo (2003) fame, it is clear that this movie started with established industry acting veterans and up-and-coming writing talent. Incidentally, Newman won Oscars for best original song in Disney / Pixar movies Monsters, Inc. (2001) and Toy Story 3 (2010).
Of course, there was the technology component that brought name recognition to Pixar Animation Studios, which reportedly had spun off from Lucasfilm (think Star Wars), and do to its tremendous success led to their acquisition by the Disney Corportation. It is my argument that Toy Story (1995), and the quality CGI films that are published yearly from a maturing of the CGI movie telling, has led to the Academy Award category for Best Animated Feature beginning in 2001. Again, this all traces back to Toy Story (1995).
The movie itself was cutting edge for its use of technology. In offering a buddy movie, you received things in this movie if you were a kid or an adult. Queueing Roger Ebert again,
For the kids in the audience, a movie like this will work because it tells a fun story, contains a lot of humor, and is exciting to watch. Older viewers may be even more absorbed, because “Toy Story,” the first feature made entirely by computer, achieves a three-dimensional reality and freedom of movement that is liberating and new. The more you know about how the movie was made, the more you respect it.
In sparing many of those details, I will say that there are better animated films in the Disney Pixar stable than Toy Story (1995). Toy Story 3 (2010) is a close contender, and WALL·E (2008) might slightly exceed it. It is hard to surpass the original film in the film that launched the genre and giving us all something truly new, appreciated, and certainly well received by world audiences.
While this review, and my gushing over the technology, groundbreaking quality, and acclaim of some of those involved with Toy Story (1995) may have given short shrift to the actual story, my recommendation is that you see the movie. You will enjoy it.
Matt – Sunday, January 29, 2017