TOY STORY (1995)

Let's hear it for the toys! In the tradition of Aladdin and The Lion King, Walt Disney's Toy Story is a certifiable winner. The first full-length computer animated film ever (if one counts 77 minutes as full-length), Toy Story is a Christmas treat with appeal for all, simple enough for kids, shrewd enough for adults, and stunning enough to provoke gasps in even the hardest of hearts.

The film centers around Woody (Tom Hanks), a plastic drawstring cowboy that doubles as his owner Andy's favorite toy and as the unofficial leader of Andy's playthings: a populace that includes, among others, a faithful Slinky Dog, a fainthearted T-Rex, and a determined bucket of little green army men. However, Woody's toyhood is interrupted by the birthday arrival of Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), a toy space cadet who wows Andy and the toy kingdom with his beeping laser, kung-fu action chop, and wings that may or may not work. Soon, the upstaged Woody is possessed by a very untoylike envy for the new toy wonder, an envy that spurs the cowboy to action and sets the two playthings on a grand adventure through suburbia.

In Toy Story, Disney has once again found that delicate balance between entertaining kids and appeasing their parents. The film is jam-packed with scenes designed to amuse the cognizant, from the cubist cosmetics of an ornery Mr. Potato Head ("Look, I'm Picasso!") to the space-crane-worshipping spacedolls in the Pizza Planet arcade ("Brothers, I am chosen to go to the next world!") Moreover, many of the film's surprise toy stars (including an Etch-a-Sketch, a barrel of monkeys, and a Mr. Microphone) should conjure up some nostalgia in child and adult alike.

The only place where Toy Story may have erred was in choosing Randy Newman to compose the three musical numbers -- their homey sittin' on the porch feel clashes with the high-tech zaniness of the film's computerized camera work. Otherwise, the movie is a sure-fire hit in true Disney style. Rather than the normal helpings of holiday fare, check out Toy Story. It's computer animated eye candy sweet enough to have even the most bah-humbuggin' of Scrooges peeking through his old toy chest.

[First Draft appeared in Harvard Independent, 1995.]

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