CANON OF FILM: Toy Story

toy story

In this edition of CANON OF FILM, we take a look at one of John Lasseter‘s seminal masterpiece– ‘Toy Story‘, in honor of the release of Pixar’s latest,‘Coco’. For the story behind the genesis of the Canon, you can click here.

Director: John Lasseter

Screenplay: John Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow from the story by John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton and Jon Ranft

(In case you haven’t seen it for some reason, here’s the trailer for the film)

It’s been over 20 years since ‘Toy Story‘ was first released. In that time, the landscape of film animation has changed so dramatically that you can separate the time difference as before as after ‘Toy Story.’ At one time, every animated feature release by Disney was a must-see event because: A–they were the results of years of painstaking detail and were made so rarely that they were once in a generation events, and B–for the most part, they were pretty much the only game in town. Japanese animation hadn’t yet reached American shores in on a wide scale and Cartoon Network was barely even an idea yet. From one animated feature being releaseed maybe once every five years, they now occur so often that the Academy has now singled out there own category for them (which ‘Toy Story 3‘, the movie’s second sequel, won back in 2010), and outside of the work of Hayao Miyazaki and a few other select animators, hand-drawn animation is now all but dead.

I’ve skipped more than a few Disney animated features in recent years, I’ve even now begun to skip computer-animated features. Claymation with the ‘Wallace and Gromit‘character still lives on and in a few other places. Now, computers generate acting with a bunch of wires connected have led to new animated films where we see the performances of actors just animated such as in ‘The Polar Express,’ and ‘Monster House,’ not to mention the painstaking detail Richard Linklater does by animated every scene and sequence of his finished, acted films using dozens of animators and a high tech MacIntosh program for his works ‘Waking Life,’ and ‘A Scanner Darkly.’ Now, more than ever, it’s clear that the dirty little secret of animation is out and about: It’s not just for children. Yet, after all that, this simple buddy-movie story that kicked off the new generation of animated features. In other words, ‘Toy Story‘ holds true despite all of this.

It now takes it’s place among the greatest films of all-time. Not animated films, but films in general. It broke the AFI’s top 100 greatest films list in 2007, a stat only shared by one other landmark animated film, ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs‘. The story of a friendship formed between toys competing for favoritism from their owner Andy, is as simple as could be. Even the choosing of the characters is fascinating, having, a cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks)  being replaced by an astronaut (Tim Allen), as though there’s an awareness of the changing of the old guard of animation where technology takes. There’s some of the sly humor and in-jokes that would tickle the older children and adult audiences that beloved ‘Shrek‘ and ‘The Incredibles‘ (you can find the teaser trailer for the follow-up here), but the freeness of the 3-D world of animation mastered by John Lasseter’s film, was such a breath of fresh air, that we are only now beginning to become immune to it. Maybe it’s become too easy and common, but considering how many animated films can tell such varied stories every year, even though it actually doesn’t make any sense, I think Buzz Lightyear’s prediction has come true, “To infinity, and beyond!”

toy story

Image via Pixar/Disney

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