Toy Story
My Rating:

Toy Story 2
My Rating:

Computer animation combines cartoons with talking toys that appeals to children (both inner and outer).

Gooden Worsted's Bitable Bytes:
"A gripping plot (for a cartoon)!"
"High humor and cliff-hanging excitement!"
"Really cool!"
"Very creative!"

What to do while watching:
Get sucked in.

What to eat while watching:
Mr. or Mrs. Potatohead Baked Potato Delight. You'll need:

  • One baked potato (sized to your appetite)
  • Several toothpicks, broken in half
  • Two olives
  • A strawberry, sliced
  • A cocktail onion
  • A little bit of spaghetti
  • Two anchovies
  • And more: use your imagination!

Add facial features, body parts and clothes to your baked potato with the toothpicks. Olives make good eyes. Green ones with pimento insides can be mounted vertically to make bloodshot eyes that bug out. A cocktail onion, or a small dill pickle sliced in half, makes a good nose. Take a slice from the middle of a strawberry for the mouth. Anchovies serve as excellent ears and add a delicious saltiness to the potato. Use a paring knife to carve a Hostess or Little Debbie snack cake into a hat or shoes. Get carried away-it's fun!

When you're done, make Mr. or Mrs. Potatohead talk and play. Then eat your new friend up before he/she gets cold!

Being the combination videophile and animation fan that I am, I don't mind telling you that I am among those who saw Pixar arrive way back in the 80's with their debut of Luxo, Jr. in the Animation Festival. The spunky little animated lamp remains in their logo, standing in for the letter I.

Toy Story is Pixar's first realization of full-length feature-dom. In spite of a gripping plot (for a cartoon), and a good soundtrack by the inimitable Randy Newman, I never lost the feeling while watching it that the story, songs, humor, Tom Hank's Voice, Tim Allen's Voice, and all were just vehicles for the wonder of computer animation. Something about the stunts and shapes in the film reminded me of early 3-D movies that forced characters to hold things out to the audience in order to take advantage of the special effect. Production values were high, but the film's self-fascination was higher.

The sequel, uncleverly titled Toy Story II, is much better in this regard. The characters, having been fully introduced in the prior movie, deepen in surprising ways. For all the skill at which they are animated, they actually transcend their medium to create a real feeling of involvement. Now, don't get me wrong: it's all pretty schmaltzy, and in a "grown-up", live-action film, I would not have been able to tolerate some of these emotional dialogues. But fortunately, these scenes are kept to a minimum and never overwhelm the high humor and the cliff-hanging excitement.

Both films are quite effective, especially taken one after the other. I saw part one about a month ago and rented the second just last night. I feel my satisfaction was heightened by having seen them both relatively close together and in order.

What was really brilliant were the "outtakes" at the end of II. Yes, those clowns at Pixar animated a bunch of humorous "bloopers" that these animated toys committed during the "filming." This is clearly the same brand of self-consciousness--that we are watching computer animation--that dimmed the first film's brilliance. But here--oh my God! This is about the funniest thing I've seen since catching Best of Show at the cinema. I was rolling! I don't even know why: it was just stupid jokes and the same out-take cliches played over and over, but it really pleased me to no end. I don't think it would have been as funny if I had not seen both movies first and felt some genuine affection for these toys.

The basic set up of the Toy Stories is that the toys that belong to towheaded Andy--and all toys all over the world--are really alive. When they are in the presence of people, they play possum. But left alone, their lives are ones of high adventure, fraught with dogs, danger, and deranged little kids. It's certainly a bleak existence in a way: a toy is well-used, often broken, then packed away or donated to charity. But for toys, the only purpose of life is to make children happy, so all of the misuse and neglect is worth it for them.

Schmaltz? You bet. But the screenwriters don't preach. The toys accept their lot and don't spend time justifying it. Instead, they have adventures and go through things that every toy might go through. Some funny scenarios result: In TS, Buzz Lightyear comes to the realization that he is not a space ranger, but only a plaything. Woody the Cowboy has to cope with being replaced as Andy's favorite toy. In TS II, Buzz meets shelves full of Buzzes Lightyear, and Woody becomes a collector's item.

The films are actually very creative.I recommend both, together, on a rainy or snowy winter's day. And don't forget to eat your Mr. or Mrs. Potatohead Delight!

Want to share a happy story with Gooden?

Gooden loves to share!

For your collection: Toy Story and Toy Story 2.

Gooden's reading The Madman and the Professor by Simon Winchester

Gooden's listening to They Might Be Giants

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