Tom Hanks Project – “Toy Story” Review

14 May

ts1posterAs a kid, one of my first real memories of Tom Hanks was not really of Tom Hanks at all. It was of Woody, the flawed but ultimately loyal and totally lovable toy cowboy from Pixar’s Toy Story. “There’s a snake in my boots!” was the cry of multiple afternoons with my younger brother, who I think was probably even more obsessed than I was with the magical story of toys come to life*. My dad read me a ton of books about magical toys, so I bought in to the idea pretty easily. Hanks truly becomes Woody in this movie, so much so that it was odd to think of Woody in the framework of, “Let’s rank the next Hanks film.” Woody is his own standalone personality, reminding me much of Kermit** who came before him.

*Toy story came at an awkward time in my animated movie watching history. As much as Toy Story was universally loved when it came out, 1995 me was more interested in seeing “Braveheart” on my friends Laser Disc player than a “kids movie.” At 29, I’ll watch Toy Story for days and only want to see “Braveheart” with Master Pancake mocking it.

**Woody is great and all, but I can’t put him in the same sentence as Kermit. I sat next to Caitlin on the couch last night as she started this review and I finished the Henson bio. I completely broke down in tears it when I got to the part where the Disney Imagineers drew a card for Henson’s family that depicted Mickey putting his arm around a despondent Kermit with his head in his hands after Jim died. No one’s crying any tears for Woody or Buzz. I know I’m not at least.

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If you somehow missed out on this Disney classic*, it totally stands up upon an adult viewing, so watch it**! In summary, it’s about a group of toys and the boy they belong to. They’re two weeks away from getting moved to a new house, so the boy, Andy, is thrown an early birthday party so he can celebrate with his current group of friends. The toys freak out, worried a new toy will replace them, and only Woody keeps his cool, easy in the idea that he’s Andy’s favorite and always will be. However, a spaceman toy called Buzz Lightyear ends up gracing Andy’s toy room with his presence, and Woody suddenly finds himself outshone. Buzz has issues of his own*** — he refuses to believe he’s a toy, quite sure he is the real Buzz Lightyear and has simply crash landed in some weird land. Through a series of unfortunate, jealousy-fueled events, Woody and Buzz find themselves trapped in next door neighbor/evil kid extraordinaire Sid’s house. Will they escape back to Andy’s before he moves? Or will Buzz forever become “Mrs. Nesbit”?

*Or didn’t fully appreciate it as an 11 year-old.

**I loved this viewing and am glad we have at least two more to watch.

***I feel like we’re supposed to be rooting against Buzz, I know I always did, but his heart is in the right place and he really doesn’t do anything wrong.

Laugh Out Loud – Zack: 72 Caitlin: 87 I’m shocked at how much I laughed at this film. There were only a few true guffaws — mostly I was giggling and “hee”-ing at gags here and there. But I did make Zack write “YAAAAAAAAY!” on the paper where we kept our laughs tracked. It’s rare that Caitlin laughs at a movie more than me, but she was giggling up a storm as we watched. I smiled more than I laughed, but it’s genuinely funny.

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Comedy – Zack: 7.8 Caitlin: 8 It’s tough for a film aimed at kids to hold comedic value for adults, but there are plenty of little winking one-liners and old-timey gags in this film that I don’t think I’d ever even really noticed before this viewing. It’s really solidly comedic — especially my favorite part, where Buzz has tea “with Marie Antoinette and her little sister.” I loved the “Buzz light beer” joke and there was plenty that kept a smile on my face. I didn’t have many big laughs, but it was funny, no doubt.

Cry – Zack: 0 Caitlin: 0 No need for tears here! Although I will say that when Woody is dejected and feels like there’s no more need for him in Andy’s toy room, I had some feels. It was sweet and I did care for the characters, but not close to crying.

Eye cover – Zack: 0 Caitlin: 0 Not even sure how this movie could make me cover my eyes. If toy violence isn’t going to scare Caitlin, what chance does it have with me?

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Romantic interest – Zack: 6 Caitlin: 5 The romance isn’t really the central theme of this movie — it’s all about the friendship between Woody and Buzz, and the evolving love of Andy and his toys. Still, Bo Peep wants her some Woody…I’m going to stop right there because I can already hear Zack making this some horrendous joke. I won’t take the bait. This is a family show! But yeah, they’re really cute together. They have better chemistry than Jim Lovell and his wife. Still, it’s not developed much in the first chapter. I can’t remember if this love story continues, but they’re sweet together in their limited scenes.

Hanks – Zack: 9.3 Caitlin: 9.8 The reason I think this is such a pillar Hanks performance is because, as I mentioned in the intro — I never really noticed Hanks before in this film. Yes, of course, I mentally knew it was him in the film. But until I was forced to really assess and think about his performance, he was just Woody, and that’s something else. He completely inhabits a toy cowboy, giving him life and love and fear and fun. It’s funny watching this movie as a Hanks film. He’s undeniably great in his first big voiceover role. He’s charming, funny and totally disappears into the role. I’ll give it an A, but I can’t go much higher for voice work. 

Movie – Zack: 9.1 Caitlin: 9.2 The themes that run through this film are so universal and relatable, that I really hesitate to call “Toy Story” a kids’ film. Of course it’s an animated Disney/Pixar production, but it’s really about the feeling that you might get replaced in the life of someone you love — that they might outgrow you. It’s a good reminder that you should embrace your own strengths, because instead of losing someone, you might just gain someone instead. It’s the first Pixar movie and it really set the tone for an incredible run of films that are great for kids and possibly better than adults. It’s paced well, the perfect mix of funny, charming and smart and Hanks is great in it. There’s a reason they keep coming back to this well. There’s a lot to love about it. Excited for 2 & 3 and hope we get a 4th for T.hanksgiving next year.

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One Response to “Tom Hanks Project – “Toy Story” Review”

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  1. Introduction to The Tom Hanks Project | rockloveaustin - May 14, 2014

    […] Toy Story – 1995 Review […]

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