Our list moves into the top 10, where there are no cheapies — everything here got a whole bunch of support from the panel. Tomorrow: #7.
8) Toy Story (4 votes, 239 points)
Shaun: I don’t know if I’ve seen a movie that I’ve only mostly enjoyed more than the original Toy Story. At my house it was on at least once a day for probably 3 months. That’s a lot of Toy Adventures and Sid and “To Infinity and Beyond.” To me, this movie is highly mediocre for the first half – Woody’s jealousy of the new toy is frustrating, Buzz’s lack of self-awareness is annoying, and the entire gang’s willingness to turn against their cowboy leader is disheartening.
But then, Woody and Buzz go off on their lone adventure, and things start to get interesting. The characters experience pain and loss, and they begin to transform. This all paves the way to one of the better, more satisfying finales in animated movie history — quite a feat considering what a pioneer Toy Story was in this 3-D animation realm to begin with.
Chris: Man, Toy Story was great. It’s one of the first movies I ever got to see in theaters. It set off a revolution in the perception of what animated films could look like. It was a merchandising behemoth. It even made me care about Randy Newman for a couple seconds, which were two more seconds than I’ve cared about Randy Newman in any other part of my life.
Toy Story’s success (and subsequent trilogy) is even more remarkable when you consider the excruciating process that it took to make it to the big screen. Some huge names helped along the way, like John Lasseter (now a Pixar institution), Steve Jobs and Joss Whedon. But there were multiple times when huge creative differences threatened to shut down the entire project — and multiple versions of the cast and script, with Woody in particular being despised and unsympathetic in one of his incarnations.
(By the way, it’s striking to look back at the years and dozens of rewrites the first movie needed to be successful, and then consider the rushed process that almost sabotaged the sequel.)
Despite that struggle, you wouldn’t know it from the end result. The movie is beautiful, especially when you consider it came out 20 years ago. I was running a computer with 256 MB of hard drive space (not a typo) — the thought of using a computer to intricately animate an entire film would have been beyond my comprehension. Combine that with two huge performances out of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen in the lead roles, some great references to toys both old and new, and a surprisingly sympathetic antagonist, and Toy Story has the whole package.
Cary: Toy Story was the first fully computer animated movie I ever saw. It also made me a Pixar convert, and for many years I completely ignored any animated films put out by Disney (which I still kind of do today. Though ever since Cars 2, I’ve been ignoring Pixar more and more). I loved everything about this movie, especially its humor. I still completely crack up at the scene where the toy shark steals Woody’s hat. There’s just something utterly hilarious about a shark wearing a cowboy hat. And also, Woody’s reaction is about as “Tom Hanks” as it gets.
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