Tuesday, March 15, 2011

AFI Top 100 Countdown #99: Toy Story

Directed by John Lasseter
Written by John Lasseter and Pete Docter
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Don Rickles
AFI Top 100 Criteria:
Critical Recognition: Formal commendation in print, television, and digital media.

*Rottentomatoes.com score of 100%

*“Watching the film, I felt I was in at the dawn of a new era of movie animation, which draws on the best of cartoons and reality, creating a world somewhere in between, where space not only bends but snaps, crackles and pops.”   Roger Ebert, Chicago-Sun Times

*“As Lion King did before it, Toy Story revived the art of American children's animation, and ushered in a set of smart movies that entertained children and their parents. It's a landmark movie, and doesn't get old with frequent repetition.”  Michael Booth, Denver Post

Major Award Winner: Recognition from competitive events including awards from peer groups, critics, guilds, and major film festivals.

*Academy: 3 nominations, 1 Special Academy Achievement Award: John Lasseter, for the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film.

*Golden Globes: 2 nominations including Best Picture

*National Film Preservation Board: National Film Registry

Popularity Over Time: Includes success at the box office, television and cable airings, and DVD/VHS sales and rentals.

$30,000,000 (estimated)

$192,000,000 (USA) first release in 1995
$30,000,000 (USA) second release in 2009
$354,300,000 (Worldwide) ( January 1989)

$103,200,000 (USA)

Historical Significance: A film's mark on the history of the moving image through visionary narrative devices, technical innovation or other groundbreaking achievements.

*Toy Story had a large impact on the film industry with its innovative computer animation. After the film's debut, various industries were interested in the technology used for the film. Graphics chip makers desired to compute imagery similar to the film's animation for personal computers; game developers wanted to learn how to replicate the animation for video games; and robotics researchers were interested in building artificial intelligence into their machines that compared to the lifelike characters in the film.

Cultural Impact: A film's mark on American society in matters of style and substance.

*The film was selected into the National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" in 2005, its first year of eligibility.

Jonesy:   Now one fun aspect of watching all 100 movies is I get to see many movies that have been on my “list” for a while, and I get to revisit some classics I have seen maybe once. Then, there will be a couple rare exceptions where I get to watch movies that I can almost quote by heart. At number 99, TOY STORY became that quotable movie.

I was nine years old when Toy Story hit theatres, and I remember what a big deal it was because it was the first movie that was 100% computer animation. It also was one of the first animated films that I remember using A-list actors as the voices (a trend obviously never went out of style). But as a nine-year-old, I didn’t really care about all that. I was just excited to see the movie because it was Disney. I remember loving it, and the funny thing was, I remember my parents loving it too. Disney had also reinvented the mold for animation because they made Toy Story appeal to adults too. There were jokes in there that as a child, I didn’t understand. I learned it was okay to have an animated movie without every character breaking into song; a Disney movie without a princess in distress or an evil king/queen.

That’s why this movie has stuck with movie goers. It actually can appeal on some level to almost everyone. Of course, I’m looking at this as a purely nostalgic aspect. Toy Story is pretty much a flawless film in my eyes. Even the animation keeps pretty well to today's standards. Now, when I re-watched it for the top 100, my cohort pointed out how the hair on the humans and the dog seemed more animated than realistic, so Pixar animators have made improvements in some areas. Even with that, I still am thoroughly impressed with the level of realism they were able to create in 1995.

If I had been an adult seeing this for the first time back in the day, I would have been blown away at the world that animators could create now with computers. I probably would have wondered how in the world they were going to top themselves or could they even top themselves? Then again, this was before I would have known what Pixar was capable of. And we all know how that story ends.

Javi: This is a movie that I hold dear and near to my heart, and I was really pleasantly surprised that this cracked the Top 100. If I remember correctly, it’s actually one of the first movies I saw when I moved to Dallas, and I even remember the theater so well. This movie needs very little introduction. It’s the great-granddad of all of the great Pixar movies we have seen in the last decade. It’s also a technical achievement for its time that still looks better than some CGI movies done recently.

Looking at this movie in a critical manner is difficult, but I’ll try anyways. I say this because so many phrases and scenes are forever lovingly ingrained in my mind. A thing that impressed me the most was how well developed the world was. There are rules and ways in which living toys behave, and it’s all implied and never explicitly told, but there’s never a point I didn’t believe it. One of the best phrases in the film is when Woody tells all of Sid’s toys “We’re gonna break a few rules here” before their awesome revenge, it really cemented the “realism” of this world. The characters are all iconic by now, with Woody and Buzz being stand outs along with Slinky, Mr. Potato-Head, Rex and Hamm. All of these characters have a little certain something whether it’s Rex’s overall neurotic mannerisms or Potato-Head’s interchangeable facial features. You can even appreciate Sid’s monstrous creations if anything because of the creativity of the bizarre combinations that result from them, such as the infamous Spider Baby.

The story, which is strangely mature for a kid movie, is a relatable one. With Woody feeling resentment and jealousy at being replaced by Buzz in Andy’s eyes, we have a story that anyone from a small kid with a new younger sibling can relate to a person who could have a jealous significant other. One thing that does suck and I will not be so biased as to forgive is the hair textures. Sid’s dog Skud looks strange and alien almost due to the lack of hair texture. I’m mentioning this because there are older movies that do show their age in this list, and I figured it’d be too much bias to not mention flaws here. I will say that Andy takes horrible care of his toys if he cares about them so much, and he freaking loses them constantly and then doesn’t realize when they come back. (But this is just a personal complaint).

I can see how and why this movie is on the Top 100. It has consistently made money for Disney/Pixar, and the influence it has had on American animation is unprecedented because for better or for worse it started the animated CGI craze that many studios have used. It also helped Pixar stay afloat and become a contender among animation studios. If you haven’t seen this movie, do it now. Seriously where have you been this whole time?

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