Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tonight's Movies: Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999) in 3D

We had the fun of seeing the original TOY STORY and TOY STORY 2 on the big screen tonight for the first time since they were released. (In fact, my youngest son had never seen them in a theater, and my younger daughter had only seen TOY STORY 2 on the big screen.) The two films are in the midst of a special two-week release as part of the run-up to next year's June 18th release of TOY STORY 3.

The movies were shown in 3D, and they both looked great. 3D has come a long way since I first watched KISS ME KATE (1953) through paper glasses in the late '70s. I saw that film in 3D a couple of times, and while it was fun, it was a definite strain on the eyes and not always easy to focus. Modern 3D glasses are a real viewing pleasure.

Most movie fans are very familiar with the original TOY STORY films. The movies have been played at our house, first on video and later on DVD, many times since their original release. Watching them again on the big screen, I was struck anew by several things, including the amazing creativity, the wit of the scripts, and the perfect vocal characterizations. Woody should be remembered as one of Tom Hanks' finest contributions to film, and the performances are pitch perfect all the way down the line, including Don Rickles' Mr. Potatohead and John Ratzenberger's Hamm the Piggy Bank.

My favorite characters are the Little Green Men from the claw machine, who never fail to make me laugh, and TOY STORY 2's Tour Guide Barbie, who steals the picture (and the end credits) in a relatively small role. Barbie was played by Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in THE LITTLE MERMAID. I'm delighted that Barbie will be returning for TOY STORY 3, along with Michael Keaton as Ken.

I noticed certain things with a fresh eye this time around. Blown up in big-screen 3D, you could see the scuff marks around the baseboards of Andy's bedroom, as well as the titles of the books on his shelves. I was particularly aware of the dust on the baby's stacking rings toy and the magic eight ball on the top shelf in Andy's room. I was also struck on this viewing by the portrayal of the close friendship between Woody and Slinky Dog (Jim Varney). Slinky is always the first one in Woody's corner and the most determined to stand up for him.

I can also say, after watching them again, that I share the opinion of many that TOY STORY 2 is one of the finest movie sequels ever made. It does everything the first film does, only better!

Is there anything I don't care for in these movies? I dislike the ultra-dark portrayal of the psychotic Sid in the first film, and the general ugliness of Al, the toy dealer in the second film. However, it seems as though into every Disney movie some dark must fall, so to speak, and these are relatively minor quibbles compared to the rest of what the films have to offer.

The film was preceded by the trailer for TOY STORY 3, which looks like it will once again mix hilarity (Buzz accidentally reset to speak Spanish?) with a bit of poignance (Andy is off to college, what will happen to the toys?).

TOY STORY runs 81 minutes. It was directed by John Lasseter.

TOY STORY 2 runs 92 minutes. It was directed by John Lasseter, Ash Brannon, and Lee Unkrich.

TOY STORY has been released on DVD multiple times, including a 10th Anniversary Edition in 2005. It's also had more than one VHS release.

TOY STORY 2 has likewise had more than one DVD release, including a 2005 Special Edition. It has also been released on VHS.

Bonus fun for Pixar fans: There is an interesting page of TOY STORY trivia at IMDb, and here's a discussion ranking the Pixar movies...a very difficult task! (Hat tip: Instapundit.) TOY STORY 2 may be at the top of my personal Pixar list. I also rate MONSTERS INC. and THE INCREDIBLES among the very best of Pixar.

Monday Update: The films' run has been extended. For info on that and announcements related to TOY STORY 3, check out this post.

Update: Here's a review of TOY STORY 3 (2010).

Update: And here's a review of TOY STORY 4 (2019)!


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