It's the story, stupid!

Although this was the first digitally enhanced CGI animated feature from Pixar - or from anywhere - what makes Toy Story work so well is the plot and the characters. And, let's not forget, the actors.

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Coming back to it after 10 years, nothing has changed and nothing feels dated. The vocal performances are exceptional, especially Tom Hanks' Woody. Add to this the animation, which, even when viewed from the technically sophisticated 21st century, is as witty as it is touched with genius.

Andy's room is the toys' domain. As Woody, the cowboy with a drawstring voice activator ("Someone's poisoned the water hole"), explains to the others, "We're here for Andy. Let's not forget that." Of course, when Andy's there, throwing his toys about and having fun, they are inanimate. Only when he leaves and no grown up is in sight do they come "alive".

When Buzz Lightyear, the trendiest new toy in town, usurps Woody in Andy's bed, after a surprise last-minute birthday present, the battle of wills between the nursery-wise Woody and the delusional Buzz, who really believes he is a space ranger ("YOU ARE A TOY!!" Woody barks at him, to no avail), is a constant running gag until the story gathers pace and there's little time for personal animosity.

Where the writers are inspired is never allowing themselves to rest on their laurels. A devastating situation, like Woody and Buzz stuck at the gas station, after Andy and his mom have driven off, is not allowed to be solved by some lucky break - the arrival of the clapped out pizza delivery van - without adding another devastating situation immediately afterwards, such as Buzz's introduction to the three-eyed yellow Martians at Pizza Planet, which leads to Sid's house and the tortured cannibalised toys.

There is no let up and no moment when you feel a scene is stretched too far, or one of the characters becomes annoyingly familiar. The constant invention, both with animation and in the script, makes later Pixars, such as Finding Nemo, appear decidedly laid back. The final chase, as Woody and Buzz try desperately to catch up with the furniture van after everyone has left the house, with the toys neatly packed in their boxes, and are moving to Andy's new home in the wide blue Somewhere Else, is a classic moment in animation history, yet to be surpassed.

Toy Story may be the first computer generated full-length feature, but it is also as close to perfection as it is possible to be.

Reviewed on: 12 Dec 2005
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The 10th anniversary of the first CGI animated feature.
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Director: John Lasseter

Writer: Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, Alec Sokolow

Starring: voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, John Morris, Erik Von Detten, Laurie Metcalf, R. Lee Ermey, Sarah Freeman

Year: 1995

Runtime: 77 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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If you like this, try:

Toy Story 2
Toy Story 3