Rita Kempley - Style section,
Kevin McManus - Style section, "Must-see, must-talk-about, must-plan-to-see-again."
'Toy Story': A Treasure
In the bedroom of a boy named Andy, two dozen playthings come alive whenever humans go away. The toys have a leader, a pull-string cowboy named Woody. And at the outset they have a problem: Andy's birthday has arrived, and party guests have brought him gifts, gifts and more gifts.
Minutes later, super hero Buzz Lightyear has landed on Woody's coveted spot near Andy's pillow. Buzz, who believes himself to be a real space ranger, pulls off an impressive aerial stunt after being taunted by Woody. Suddenly, the toys begin acting as if they have a new leader.
Jealous, Woody attempts to get Buzz stuck behind furniture.
But the scheme goes awry and both heroes end up lost in the
outside world. They must get home fast, because Andy's family
is about to move. Their adventure turns nightmarish when a
neighborhood fiend takes possession of the heroes and plans
their ghastly destruction. -- Kevin McManus
'Toy Story': From Plastic to Fantastic
By Rita Kempley
The Nutcracker Prince, Pooh, the Velveteen Rabbit: Toys, as every kid knows, come to life when you're not looking. It is a fundamental of childhood, a notion that is sent up and oh-so-joyously celebrated in the irreverent, ingenious "Toy Story."
Though computer-animated rather than hand-drawn, this wry, rippingly paced buddy movie is as delightful in its own way as any of Walt Disney's traditional fairy tales. In fact, it's a nice change of pace to see the studio draw magic from this modern tale about ordinary 20th-century kid Andy and his eager-to-please playthings.
Conceived and directed by John Lasseter (a pioneer of compu-tooning), the picture offers an eye-popping parade of 3-D-seeming anthropomorphs, but it also has enormous humanity and heart. Lasseter, who brought a baby lamp uncannily to life in the 1986 short "Luxo Jr.," here even more convincingly awakens hambone piggy banks and sly slinky toys.
Of course, all the digital gimmickry would count for nothing were it not for the zany and zealous vocal cast, headlined by Tom Hanks as Woody, a traditional pull-string talking cowboy whose position as 6-year-old Andy's favorite toy is threatened by the arrival of a space action figure, Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen).
Written by a quartet that includes Joss Whedon of "Speed," "Toy Story" has more in common with "Lethal Weapon" than classics like "Bambi," though kids who have been bumped from center stage by new siblings will readily identify with Woody's guilt and fears. They'll probably even relate when Woody accidentally knocks the studly Buzz out Andy's bedroom window.
The other toys-even Woody's pliant sidekick, Slinky Dog (voiced by Jim Varney)-suspect foul play. When Mr. Potato Head (voiced by Don Rickles), the spud who overheard the thud, flat-out accuses Woody of plasticide, the gangly cowpoke must redeem himself by bringing Buzz back home. This would be easier if the bull-headed action guy weren't suffering from the delusion that he really is an astronaut sent to save the world from the evil Emperor Zurg. Nevertheless, the boy toys bond as they make their way through a series of scary adventures.
The simple story is enlivened by the distinctive personalities of the toys, especially the irascible tater head, the supportive Bo Peep lamp (voiced by Annie Potts) and a neurotic plastic dinosaur (voiced by Wallace Shawn): "I'm going for fearsome here, but I don't feel it," worries the timorous T-Rex. "I'm worried it just comes off as annoying."
When it comes to Andy's toys, failure is not an option, for they think of themselves as entertainment professionals. They even have regular staff meetings with flow charts and inspirational speeches. This mind-set and a multitude of cheeky inside jokes-no bad words in front of preschool toys-will keep adults entertained while the dazzling derring-do of the toy toons will keep the youngsters enchanted. Toyland was never like this.
Toy Story is rated G.
'Toy': Animation Sensation
By Kevin McManus
For once, reality lives up to hype. With "Toy Story," gigantic superlatives become appropriate, even necessary. What the bright minds of Walt Disney have produced here is a must-see movie. Must-see, must-talk-about, must-plan-to-see-again.
"Toy Story," which marries a brand-new computer animation style to old-fashioned storytelling genius, opens a fantasy world where toys behave like human action figures-marvelously quick-witted ones.
In the bedroom of a boy named Andy, two dozen playthings come alive whenever humans go away. The toys have a leader, a pull-string cowboy named Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks). And at the outset they have a problem: Andy's birthday has arrived, and party guests have brought him gifts, gifts and more gifts.
"We're next month's garage-sale fodder for sure," a plastic dinosaur (Wallace Shawn) laments as he peeps out the window at arriving guests. Woody calms the group: "No one's getting replaced. This is Andy we're talking about."
Minutes later, though, super hero Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) has landed on Woody's coveted spot near Andy's pillow. Buzz, who believes himself to be a real space ranger, pulls off an impressive aerial stunt after being taunted by Woody. Suddenly, the toys begin acting as if they have a new leader.
Jealous, Woody attempts to get Buzz stuck behind furniture. But the scheme goes awry and both heroes end up lost in the outside world. They must get home fast, because Andy's family is about to move. Their adventure turns nightmarish when a neighborhood fiend takes possession of the heroes and plans their ghastly destruction.
"Toy Story" has drawn heaps of praise for its "3-D" computerized animation, an uncanny cross between a cartoon and live action. But in no way does the film's snazzy look overshadow its plot, characterizations or superb pacing. John Lasseter, who directed from a story he co-wrote, playfully whisks the tale toward its whiz-bang climax, never lingering a second too long on any gag or action.
Rich in wit, verbally and visually, "Toy Story" appears designed to keep a grown-up audience laughing from start to finish. But its humor isn't the sort that'll offend kids' sensibilities. For instance, in a scene in which the toys are learning about Andy's new gifts via two-way radio (a toy soldier using a baby monitor), Mr. Potato Head begins chanting, "Mrs. Potato Head! Mrs. Potato Head! Mrs. Potato Head!" That's as risque as it gets.
Many of the characters take the form of familiar toys: Etch-A-Sketch, Slinky Dog, a pink-haired troll and a squadron of green plastic soldiers. Adults may get a kick out of these toys' sad, fearful responses to their mistreatment by humans. But viewers under age 9 are apt to be moved by the story's pointed message, shouted at one point by Woody: "Be good to your toys!"
More powerful than all the Power Rangers combined, "Toy Story" flies higher than anything starring Aladdin or Batman and is at least as far-out as "E.T." In fact, to find a movie worthy of comparison you have to reach all the way back to 1939, when the world went gaga over Oz.
TOY STORY (G) - Contains nothing offensive.