AFI #99: Toy Story

It’s hard to believe, but the original Toy Story came out in 1995. I saw it back then, and thinking back there was sure a lot of “buzz” about it (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). The hype was much more about the technology then it was about the film, which made me wonder how it would hold up after 16 years. As I suspected, it’s still pretty darn good — but animated technology has become even more spectacular in the past decade and a half.

So why did AFI put Toy Story on its list? After watching it today it has to be because of the computer animation since the plot was nothing special. I’m okay with that though because when an art form makes a big leap forward the film that sort of defines that leap is important. Avatar is a good story, but the 3-D is spectacular. I suppose The Jazz Singer had an even bigger impact on the film world when it became the first feature-length film to include sound back in 1927 (though The Jazz Singer didn’t make AFI’s list).

Toy Story is a great little movie, though I’d argue that Toy Story 2 has a better plot. I’d also argue Toy Story, which is the only animated film on the AFI list, isn’t even close to the best animated film in American history — I think Shrek is the best ever and enjoyed others more like Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc, and The Lion King to name a few. But Toy Story is fun and there are some nice gags. My favorite is subtle but hilarious…it takes place when slinky dog insults Mr. Potato Head and Potato Head takes his lips off and touches them to his rear end as in kiss my ass slinky dog! The other subtle moments I enjoyed were when Woody purposely gets Buzz Lightyear’s name wrong — he calls him Buzz Light Beer and Buzz Light Snack!

Toy Story would get three stars out of five for me if I were rating these films, and while it wouldn’t make my top 100 I can understand why AFI included it. Just remember, Buzz Lightyear doesn’t fly…he falls with style.

Next Up: #98 Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)