[Trilogy Thursday] Toy Story

Hi, everyone. This is the first in a new series of posts. With the help of Max Covill of Impassioned Cinema, we will discuss and review popular trilogies, so you don’t have to. What better way to start than with one of the best reviewed trilogies of all time, Toy Story.

Toy Story

Max: This is the one that started it all. Not just the Toy Story series of course, but Pixar as a studio powerhouse. This was one of the bigger gambles in cinematic history. Without the help of the late Steve Jobs, this movie might’ve never gotten made. The story features a collection of children’s toys and their adventures. While that sounds simple enough, Toy Story deals with a lot of serious undertones. The biggest of which is the feeling of being forgotten. The cowboy toy, Woody, has always been the top toy, but when a new spaceman toy (Buzz Lightyear) comes into the picture he feels inadequate. Toy Story also explores the building friendship between the toys and makes us care for CGI characters like never before. While the animation seems sparse compared to other CGI features of this day, Toy Story remains a classic due to its story and characters, the CGI just ended up being icing on the cake.

Claire: Trilogies: Well, they always say that the best things come in threes. In the case of Pixar’s Toy Story series, I think that old adage is definitely true.

Toy Story was released in 1995, and was followed up four years later with Toy Story 2. The third installment, Toy Story 3, would be released just over 10 years later, in 2010. The key elements stayed the same throughout the trilogy: a group of toys, who come to life whenever a human isn’t in sight, get into trouble and need to work together to get home. Leading the toys is a chirpy cowboy, Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), and a space ranger, Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen).

In Toy Story our heroes experience the terror of the nasty child next door, and how they act and react is pretty much what I would have expected. Though, sadly, toys don’t come to life after we leave the room, the plot in this film seems very natural, and authentic. Toy Story answers that question we’ve all daydreamed about since we were children: what would happen if our toys came to life?

Toy Story, you’re my No 1 in the trilogy, for the simple reason that I was completely sucked into this fantastic world, hook, line and sinker.

Toy Story 2

Max: Toy Story 2 continues with the same cast, but adds what you’d expect from a sequel. More toys are introduced into the picture and Woody is again trying to find his way back to his owner. This particular entry in the franchise has the toys question their longevity. Is it better to be remembered for all time, while giving up the time you still have? Of course in true Pixar fashion this question is presented with humor and charm. Woody and Buzz are joined by a new set of toys based on their universes, whether it be the pretty cowgirl Jessie or the evil Emperor Zerg. Toy Story 2 is the only one that doesn’t quite capture the same wonder that the other movies have in spades.

Claire: Bearing in mind that the Toy Story films are a PG and two Us, I think they all appeal to adults as much as they do to children. This is certainly the case of Toy Story, and its successor. In this film we see Woody try and make his way back home after being stolen by a toy collector. We’re introduced to more characters, including Jessie, Bullseye and Stinky Pete. Toy Story 2 is very different to Toy Story in that the gang is separated, with Woody left on his own with new toys, and in a new surrounding.

This does work, though, as the plot does seem very authentic. Toy collectors certainly exist and while the lengths Buzz and the gang have to go to find Woody are a little OTT, they’re great fun and reveal the power of friendship.

Toy Story 3

Max: Let’s face it, Toy Story 3 had all the makings of a trainwreck. Why would Pixar go back to the Toy Story franchise years later, except to milk the franchise for more money. Thankfully I was woefully wrong. Pixar proved that third movies can be just as good or better than earlier entries. There’s not many series that can stay consistently good through all three movies. Woody, Buzz, and company get donated because their owner is going off to college. Even more toys are introduced and a quest to get back to their owner continues again. The script does an excellent job of keeping the characters real. There’s a real sense of being in that same position and having to donate the toys you’ve loved for all these years. A truly classic film through and through. I never thought it would be my favorite in the franchise.

Claire: A third film wasn’t strictly necessary, and it could have been a flop and one of those ‘they shouldn’t have bothered’ films. Happily, this wasn’t the case. Toy Story 3 wrapped up the story very neatly, and was certainly a bittersweet ending. Andy, like Toy Story‘s original viewers, has gotten older, and doesn’t need his toys anymore. When he goes off to college Woody and co are accidentally donated, and they have to stick together to try and escape from a rather sinister children’s daycare centre. What follows is a wild adventure involving new toys, and an uncertain future…

As with all the its predecessors, Toy Story 3 has a great vocal cast, and Ned Beatty is great as the devious Lots-O. The plot is very fun and certainly tugs on your heart strings in more than one scene. All of this is before you take into account the animation, which is completely spot-on, like with the previous two films. When you compare Toy Story to Toy Story 3, I don’t think it has particularly aged even though they were made 15 years apart – they fit together very well.

Final thoughts

Max: Top to bottom one of the finest trilogies ever made. Where many series have parts that are significantly weaker than the other entries, Pixar has made something truly special with the Toy Story franchise.

Claire: Bravo, Pixar, you’ve made a top rate trilogy that viewers will enjoy for many years to come, and one that I will definitely show my own children in the future.

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17 thoughts on “[Trilogy Thursday] Toy Story”

  1. Woo hoo, a new series, awesome Claire! And you start out w/ the best amongst all trilogies. You’re so right in that it could be in the ‘they shouldn’t have bothered’ category if it weren’t for the brilliant writing from Pixar team. It’s amazing how they could create something so engaging from toy characters!

    Great discussion guys, I look forward to the next Trilogy you’d feature.

  2. I love the serie! It’s the first time I come across your blog and I’m loving it.
    I’m kind of tempted to see Toy Story again. I like how you got to discuss the thing behind it, the raise of Pixar and the followers of Toy Story. Very well discussed! I look forward to the next post of the serie

  3. I never saw the first Toy Story. I watched the 2nd because a group of friend were picking it so I join them. But Pixar made a great trilogy. Who would’ve thought a world of toys could be made into 3 great movie.

    1. All three movies are under 90 minutes a piece I believe. You can almost watch the whole trilogy in a sitting. Put the first one on your rental list. Its a great watch.

  4. Cool new feature guys…I’m looking forward to a focus on Back To The Future! 🙂

    I’ve never loved the Toy Story films as much as some. I still think of them as some of the finest films released by Pixar but they don’t beat Finding Nemo.

    …that said, I’m not sure which is my favourite of these three. Toy Story set a benchmark that I think was surpassed by its brilliant sequel so while they are both wonderful, no. 2 gets my vote. I was very impressed with part 3 too…Pixar rarely let us down.

    1. Dan, BTTF will certainly make an appearance now I’ve got around to watching them 😀

      Finding Nemo is a lovely film but, for me, Toy Story ranks just a little higher. I think it’s because I did always wonder what would happen if my toys did come to life.

      You are completely right, though, Pixar does very rarely let us down.

  5. love this segment. Look forward to seeing more! Great summary of the trilogy altogether!

    I asked Max on his page and I am curious with you too, Claire: which order do you like the series in?

    I prefer them in this order: 1, 3, 2…which is how I usually end up liking most trilogies it seems.

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