Can you believe it was 15 years ago when this fun series of kid-friendly movies began? Each movie has its merits but there are also some areas that could have used some improvement.
In 1995, the first Pixar film and first entirely CGI movie was introduced to the world, a little boys with his toys. Once upon a time, a little boy had cowboys to play with and Indians were the bad guys. Most kids were lucky to have a few cherished toys. In Toy Story, the little boy’s name was Andy and his cowboy is Woody. Woody is the leader of the toys that come to life when humans are out of the picture. But Woody’s good life with his boy Andy changes when Andy gets a new toy for his birthday, Buzz Lightyear. Suddenly, Woody isn’t the only game in town. The movie hits the ground running at that point while Woody tries to convince Buzz that he is only a toy and tries to make sure that Buzz doesn’t become Andy’s one and only favorite.
The best parts about the movie are the ways in which the toys work together to get a job done. There are great morals-to-the-story lines and the adults will love all of the lines that refer to other movies. Some of the areas of the movie that might be difficult for smaller children would be how “evil” the neighbor boy Sid can seem and when Woody is less than pleasant towards Buzz. It all works out in the end and the reconciling at the end of the movie makes up for any potential unpleasantness.
Toy Story 2
Thanks to the success of the first Toy Story movie, Pixar released Toy Story 2 in 1999. Buzz and Woody are best friends and are happily playing with Andy equally and on good terms with all of the other toys regardless of what happened in the first movie. As Andy is playing with Woody, getting ready to go to cowboy camp, Woody’s arm rips. Life changes for the toys quickly. Andy goes to camp and as Woody is trying to rescue a toy from a garage sale tragedy, Woody gets found by a toy collector. Woody is the missing piece to a very lucrative collection he had been putting together. Woody finds a family that he didn’t know he had in Jessie and his horse, Bullseye. Once upon a time, Woody was a famous toy that had a television show and tons of merchandising. Soon Woody has to decide between his new family and his old friends. In the end, Jessie and Bullseye come home with Buzz and Woody to live with Andy.
This movie has lots of good moments, just like the first movie. Plenty of comedy and some new characters make for a fun ride but the toy collector often leaves a sour taste in your mouth, as does one of the characters that is supposed to be Woody’s friend. Although the movie ends on a high note with Woody back in Andy’s room and new toys joining Andy’s family, I don’t think that the movie is quite as good as the first.
Toy Story 3
The latest edition of the Toy Story series came out in June of 2010. Andy is going to college! The toys start to worry as they realize that their days are numbered in Andy’s room. Andy eventually chooses to take Woody to college with him, while putting the rest of the toys in a garbage bag. His intention is to put the toys, including Buzz, in the attic but in a jumble of confusion, the bag goes out in the trash.
Eventually the toys end up in a daycare center. While things start out friendly, they quickly turn bad as the toys struggle to get out of the daycare center and get back home to Andy. Woody ends up spending some time with a little girl and some new toys. Buzz and the rest of the toys eventually make it out of the daycare center and all of the toys go to live with the little girl.
The movie starts out rather sad as we see a teenage Andy getting ready to go to college and having to make decisions about getting rid of his toys. Things don’t improve as Woody gets split up from his friends briefly. They all go on to the daycare center together but Woody leaves as soon as he can. It doesn’t take long and we see the not-so-nice side of the toys at the daycare center. Overall, the movie has its cute moments but is rather dark. All is well in the end when Andy gets one last true play with his toys as he is giving them to the little girl but this part is also sad as Andy leaves his toys behind.
As with most series, I feel that the first was the best and the rest never really capture that initial essence.