Dick De Jong
April 4, 2010
Has it really been 15 years since Toy Story came out and put Pixar animation studio on the map? Then again was it only 1995 when Toy Story signaled a sea change in cinema history as the first feature length computer animated film?
And while we are scratching our collective heads, why has it taken so long for Disney to release Toy Story and the 1999 Toy Story 2 on Blu-ray? O.K. I can answer that one, Toy Story 3 is coming to a local multiplex near you on June 18 - in 3D.
On a technical level, it's fascinating to compare the computer animation of the two films. No doubt the first Toy Story was on the cutting edge of what was possible with computers at the time, but it is still primitive when compared to what is being done today. You can even see the advances in texturing, lighting and rendering in Toy Story 2.
But at the core, it's the story of a motley crew of toys led by Woody, the aw-shucks cowboy, until Buzz Lightyear, a real space cadet, lands on Andy's bed.
And from the wild and wacky supporting cast of characters, my favorite is Hamm, the know-it-all piggy bank with a slot in his back and a cork in his belly and voiced by who else but John Ratzenberger, (Cliff on Cheers).
Though I loved how Mr. Potato Head constantly had his features rearranged. And Bo Peep could wield a mean curved staff that would reel in Woody.
But the phantasmagoric collection of toys fused together by Sid, the vicious kid next door is an amazing bucket of weird, as my friend Sharon would say.
Considering that Joss Whedon co-wrote the script for the original, it's not surprising that this simple tale of toys coming to life delves into issues of self awareness and a few cultural archetypes.
And in the sequel, Woody must choose between the mortality of being loved by a boy who inevitably grows up or being enshrined forever in a museum.
Thank goodness the screenwriters gave us deep meanings to ponder while the young'uns play the movies for the fortieth time.
And who doesn't like Randy Newman's "You've Got a Friend?"
And now with the release of both films in Blu-ray, it's two times the fun at four times the resolution.
Each movie includes a commentary with Director John Lasseter and among others, a very young Pete Docter, who was the Supervising Animator on Toy Story and fifteen years later, an Academy Award winner for Up.
I especially found the discussion about the making of Toy Story revealing as a crew of young artists try to meld creativity and technology for the first time into a full length computer animated movie.
The horror story of a near cataclysmic computer crash is not nearly as soul wrenching as Lasseter's retelling of a disastrous Black Friday meeting with studio head Jeffery Katzenberg, who hated the storyboard presentation and gave the team two weeks to get their ship sailing in the right direction.
Also, the short vignette on the Pixar Zoetrope is fascinating.
To infinity and beyond!
Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Director: John Lasseter
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Laurie Metcalf, Annie Potts, John Ratzenberger, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, Jim Varney, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer
Length: 81 & 92 minutes
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1
English SDH, Spanish, French