Search This Blog

Monday, January 02, 2012

Toy Story

Now that we are in the year 2012, a lot of people have the attitude that a new year brings forth new hopes, new dreams, heck, new everything!
For many people, the change in calendar year brings about an attitude of ‘out with the old, in with the new’.

There’re lots of examples that I can come up with right off the bat that suggest that a new year brings out new change.  Many people take the first few days of 2012 to clean out their closets, for instance.  Tossing out those shirts that no longer fit, jeans that are threadbare and fading, socks that look like they were taken from a swiss cheese know.

After all, many people get new clothes for Christmas, and need a space to put all of their brand new clothes.  It’s quite common for people to donate, sell, or throw away their old wardrobe to make way for the new one.

Well, unless you’re a hoarder, but that’s another story altogether.

I imagine that during the first week of 2012, I will be rearranging my closet to fit in the half dozen sweaters that I received as gifts for Christmas 2011.  As someone who has limited closet space, it’s almost become a bit of a necessity, really.  But, don’t worry.  Most of the clothing items I have given up in the past have gone to charity.  I hate being wasteful.

The new year also tends to be a busy time for home redecorating projects.  Between buying new furniture for a living room, to renovating a bathroom, to painting a home a different shade of white (who knew that there were one hundred different shades of white for that matter?), people see the new year as a chance to remodel everything within their personal space.

I know that if I ever get the chance to own my own home, I’d probably welcome the opportunity for change to my own living area.  As it stands right now, I’m very limited in what I can do.  There’s always time to change this though.

Even growing up, there were instances where we had to let go of the past to incorporate the future...even in something as simple as what I kept inside of a toy box.

I can remember growing up, I would get wonderful gifts and presents for Christmas and my birthday.  Nothing too extravagant or expensive, as my family was working class, but I have such great memories.  But there came a time in which the toys and games that I had gotten accumulated, and the space I had in the toy box was less and less each year.  There eventually came a time in which I had to make some heavy decisions about my belongings (well, about as heavy as a decision made as a child could be).  Making the choices between what toys to keep, and which toys to sell or give away were some of the hardest childhood decisions that I ever had to make.  How could you choose?

Ideally, I wished that I could have kept everything that I had gotten.  Some of the toys and games that I had gotten were from family members who I had loved, and I had the feeling that if I let go of them, I’d end up hurting their feelings.  But, when given the choice between keeping a brand new toy and keeping a toy that was falling apart after five years of non-stop play, the choice was made obvious in a lot of cases.

I’ve still managed to keep a few things from my childhood.  Certainly, one thing that I refuse to let go of are my collection of comic books.  After all, those comic books helped cheer me up after many, many horrible school days.  I still have my Intellivision that I got as a Christmas present one year, as well as the games that go with it.  And I have a set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fridge magnets from the early 1990s that I’ve kept just for nostalgic purposes.

So, I ask you guys this...if you had an old toy that you’ve had for years, and a new toy that you just got two days ago, would you get rid of the old to make way for the new?  Keep both?  Not play with EITHER one?

In the case of Andy Davis, this was a choice that was central to the plot of one of the most profitable and enjoyable movies ever made.

That movie is the 1995 classic Pixar movie, 'Toy Story'.  The first of five animated feature films that will be featured in the Monday Matinee entries during the month of January.  The movie starred Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as the voices of Woody and Buzz Lightyear respectively.

When Toy Story was released in November 1995, it brought forth a whole bunch of firsts with it.  It was the first feature film made by Pixar, for one.  On that note, we can say that it was the first feature film that was done entirely in CGI animation.  It was a really big deal when it was first released.  The film did extremely well at the box office, and was the top-grossing film on its opening weekend.  The film made almost four hundred MILLION dollars worldwide, and spawned two successful sequels (Toy Story 2 in 1999 and Toy Story 3 in 2010).  And that isn't even counting all of the toys that were made in conjunction with the film releases.  To say that the Toy Story trilogy was successful would be one hell of an understatement.

Really, I could talk about all three films, because all three of them were superb.  But I wanted to focus especially on the first one because it is the film that started the whole thing off.

Anyway, Andy Davis is the main human character of the film.  He's a young boy who lives a happy, carefree life with his family in a suburban paradise.  His favourite things in the whole world are the massive collection of toys that he has accumulated over his childhood.  He literally has every toy a boy could want.  He has a piggy bank named Hamm.  He has a Slinky Dog.  He has Mr. Potato Head.  He has enough toys to stock a shelf at Toys R Us!

Perhaps Andy's most favourite toy is his beloved cowboy doll named Woody.  Woody is a typical pull-string doll.  You pull the string, Woody will say such positive statements as 'You're my favourite deputy!'

However, Andy has a birthday coming up.  And whenever Andy celebrates a birthday, or Christmas comes around, or there's a special event where Andy will get a brand new toy to play with, the toys get very worried.  They seem to have the fear that whenever a new toy comes on the scene, Andy will focus all of his attention on them, and ignore all the others.

This is a notion that Woody seems to ignore, at first.  Woody tries his best to reassure the rest of Andy's toys that they have nothing to fear.

Well, that is until Andy gets his birthday present.

It seems as though every year has their own version of the 'must have toy of the season'.  In 1983, it was the Cabbage Patch Kid.  In 1996, it was the Tickle Me Elmo doll.

And in 1995 apparently, it was the Buzz Lightyear action figure.

And what a cool dude Buzz was.  He was an astronaut who could go to infinity...and beyond!  His overall personality seemed to match his larger than life exterior.  With his booming voice, fancy buttons, and all the bells and whistles, Buzz Lightyear definitely stood out amongst the sea of toys in the room.

And Woody hated every minute of it.

To make matters even more frustrating, Buzz didn't even seem aware that he even WAS a toy!  He actually believed that he was the original Buzz Lightyear.  To Woody's frustration, he even seemed to convince the other toys that the fantasy that he has been lead to believe was true really was true!

To Woody, Buzz posed a real threat to usurp him off of the 'Andy's Favourite Toy' throne.  And the last thing Woody wanted was for that to happen.

As the movie progresses, we learn that it's a busy time at the Davis household.  Not only is it Andy's birthday, but we also learn that the family is moving to a new house.  But before the move, a birthday party is planned for Andy at a Chuck E. Cheese like restaurant known as the 'Pizza Planet'.  Since the restaurant is space themed, Andy wastes no time in deciding to bring Buzz Lightyear with him to the party, infuriating Woody even further.

The normally upbeat and positive Woody takes drastic measures to ensure that Buzz doesn't make it to the party, even going so far as to knock him out of Andy's bedroom window!  The plan does work, as Andy decides to bring Woody with him instead of Buzz.  Of course, this success is short lived, as Buzz finds a way inside the Davis family car anyways.  This sets the scene for a fight between Buzz and Woody.  The fight causes Woody and Buzz to fall out of the vehicle, but Woody manages to hitch a ride on a truck, and convinces Buzz that if he goes with him to Pizza Planet, he can go back to his home planet for good.  The gullible Buzz agrees.

At the restaurant, Buzz is immediately drawn to a giant mechanical claw game which he believes is the spaceship that Woody promised would be there.  The spaceship is even filled with an assortment of little green alien toys who seem to believe that Buzz is their master.

At this point, Woody is beginning to feel a little guilty for the trick he played on Buzz, and he tries to go inside the game to rescue Buzz.  But unfortunately, Woody, Buzz, and an alien toy are taken by Andy's twisted neighbour, Sid Phillips.

And what a nasty piece of work Sid was.  I'm sure all of us have mutilated or destroyed toys in our lives.  I know I used to bury my sister's Barbie dolls in the backyard when I was younger.  But Sid takes it to the extreme.  He rips the guts out of one toy and attaches them to another toy to make a demented, warped version of some mutant toy.  It may seem like harmless destruction in the human world, but to the toys, it ultimately ends up being their worst nightmare come true.

To make the situation even more dire, while imprisoned at Sid's, Buzz happens to watch a television commercial advertising Buzz Lightyear dolls, and Buzz comes to the sad realization that he is nothing more than a toy.  He is so taken aback by the shock that when Woody decides to come up with an escape plan, Buzz is simply too shaken up to care.

So here we have our conflict.  Woody is forced to work together with his nemesis to try and get back to Andy before he moves away, but Buzz is depressed.  Even worse is the fact that time is running out for both of them, as Sid's latest sadistic plan is to attach a rocket to Buzz Lightyear to scatter his remains to infinity and beyond.  Can Woody and Buzz work together to escape Sid's clutches and get back home to where they belong?

Well, okay, considering that the movie spawned two sequels, you probably already know the answer to that one.  But just watching the toys get one over on Sid is worth checking out.  Karma couldn't taste so sweet.

I absolutely love the movie Toy Story.  It has warmth, it has nostalgia, it has's one of the most perfect movies to ever come out of the decade known as the 1990s, and helped put Pixar on the map as a reputable movie maker.

But I think I also enjoyed the movie because it took me back to the days when I was a child, and the hardest decision I had to make was to decide which toys I loved the best.  For Andy, it almost proved to be an impossible situation because he had a special memory associated with each toy.  Just as I had.

I guess the lesson we can learn from Toy Story is the fact that childhood is a precious time in all of our lives, and sometimes, having a special toy to hold onto through the good and the bad can help a lot.

I think also that a lesson can be learned about taking care of your possessions.  That maybe we should try our best to preserve our things and memories so that we can either enjoy them in our older age, or keep them to provide another child the same joy that we got out of them when we were playing with them.

Because you never know when a Sid will pop up.

And you never know what dire fate that a Sid could end up facing when he destroys one too many toys...

No comments:

Post a Comment