Are you ready to feel crazy old? Today is the the 20th anniversary of Toy Story. That's right, a movie you probably very clearly remember going to see as a kid is 20 years old. You're not 20 years old — a movie you were possibly not even all that young when you saw is 20 years old. If Toy Story were a person it could vote and would only have to wait another year to get drunk with you (legally). I'll give you a few minutes to sob quietly to yourselves as you contemplate your own mortality... Are you good? OK, let's move on. We don't have much time, friends. Death is hurtling toward us, closer every minute.
In a time when it's rare to see an animated film that isn't computer animated, it's humbling to think that Toy Story was the first feature-length computer animated film and the first theatrical film produced by Pixar, a company upon which we have come to rely for a steady stream of quality children's films that routinely reduce adults into emotional puddles of tears. And they deliver every time for one (OK, many, but one primary) reason: Pixar has always put story first and it shows — and Toy Story was when most of us became introduced to that.
Toy Story is a film made with tremendous heart by insanely talented people who obviously believed in and cared about this project. The fleshed out characters, meticulous attention to detail, warmth, pathos, and relatability ensures that this is a film that holds up 20 years since it first captured our hearts. Here's why it might be the most important '90s movie you can share with your kids...
The Revolutionary Animation Holds Up
Pixar got its start as Computer Graphics Lab in 1974 and made its first animated short, The Adventures of Andre and Wally B, in 1984. For what it's worth, I would highly recommend checking out all of their shorts. Not only can you see the evolution of the technology and techniques they were using, but even they've always been so far ahead of the pack it's staggering.
When Toy Story came out, audiences were completely wowed by the computer animation, which was like nothing they'd ever seen before. To put it in perspective, this was computer animation released the same year on The Simpsons that was seen as impressive.
Toy Story it ain't, folks, even though that episode is still really funny.
While computer animation has certainly improved in 20 years, there isn't much about Toy Story that makes modern audiences think, "Oh wow! Look at how crappy the graphics were compared to those of today." They're still pretty awesome.
Whether Your Child Connects To Woody Or Buzz Will Give You Deep Insights Into Their Psyche
The plot of Toy Story juxtaposes Woody, a simply, vintage cowboy doll, with Buzz Lightyear, the latest, space-age astronaut adventurer action figure with all sorts of fancy bells and whistles. Who your child is most drawn to will give you some interesting insights into their values, personalities, and psychology. My daughter is too young to voice her preferences, but my 4-year-old son is 100% #TeamBuzz: he's energetic, adventurous, and full of confidence. (He usually connects most with the villains. True story: His favorite character in The Incredibles is "The Evil Robot," aka, the faceless, soulless machine that is programmed to kill everything it encounters... so... we're interested in that...)
This movie is really funny, and not just a "funny for a kid's movie" kind of way. I find myself genuinely laughing at it, even after having seen it a million times over 20 years. Of course Tom Hanks (aka, America's Dad) and Tim Allen (aka, America's Step-Dad That We're On Good Terms With) in the lead roles deliver impeccable performances. The detailed visual storytelling alone provides chuckles and belly laughs, not to mention the snappy writing brought to life by an incredible cast of actors, from Wallace Shawn as the neurotic Rex to the legendary Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head.
Your Child Already Believes Their Toys Come To Life When No One Is Looking
You will never convince me that there is a child on Earth that has not believed this at some point. I probably believed this for longer than I should have (my mom was really big into encouraging whimsy, guys). So Toy Story is really just confirming a worldview that children adorably already hold.
Sid Is A Cautionary Tale
Sid is a mean toy torturing bully whose playthings eventually rise up against him in what I can only imagine was psychologically traumatizing. Sid serves as a fine example of why our children should be nice to their toys (and each other), and take care of their dolls and toy animals. Dare I hope that children who take care of toys will require fewer? I'll admit, with six sets of grandparents, great grandparents, and a million aunts, uncles, great aunts and great uncles, this is almost certainly a pipe dream for my kids, but at least seeing Sid get his comeuppance will possibly maybe mean I'll be dealing with fewer broken toys strewn about my house?
The Mutant Toys Serve As An Important Lesson About Seeing Beyond Our Assumptions
The toys Woody and Buzz encounter in Sid's bedroom seem scary at first. They're creepy looking (that spider-baby thing haunted many a '90s kid's dreams) and don't speak. But the heroes soon discover that these toys aren't bad, they're just misunderstood, and they help the two return to Andy's house. This provides a great jumping off point for parents to talk to kids about appreciating other people's differences, not judging a book by its cover, and being willing to reach out to people you might initially think are mean or have nothing in common with you.
You Will Sob
Par for the course with Pixar films, Toy Story will make you cry. Whether you have all the feels when Andy seems to forsake Woody for Buzz or if your heart breaks a little when Buzz realizes that he can't fly, you will almost certainly shed a tear. Of course it's nothing compared to the damn Sarah McLachlan song from Toy Story 2 (what is it with that fabulous broad and making us cry every time she opens her mouth?) or the infamous incinerator scene in Toy Story 3. To prove this point, I can assure you, dear readers, that I just watched the two links above and now my face is soaked with tears and I can't stop crying and wanting to hug my childhood teddy bear. Who wouldn't want to share that with their kids? Welcome to sadness, my beloved progeny.
Images: Pixar; Giphy(7); Tumblr