Directed by John Lasseter
And thus concludes my re-watching of the “Toy Story” films in reverse chronological order. Why did I watch them in such an order? To be honest, I don’t really know. In fact, I’d be willing to say there was absolutely zero method behind my madness, it simply just worked out that way. “Toy Story 3” was in theatres so I went to see it. Seeing that film reminded me of0 how little I recalled of the second film, so I watched that one. And after watching the two of those I thought to myself “why stop there? Might as well finish it off.” However, after having watched the first film again, I think that if this question were to be posed to me again, my answer would be, “I was saving the best for the last.”
There’s something in the original “Toy Story” that just isn’t in the two sequels. Putting a word to this characteristic is a hard thing to do, mainly because I don’t think that it’s one simple difference. For one thing, the original film has a much more adult sense of humor behind it. The relationships between the toys seem much more complicated than they are in the subsequent sequels. For instance, most of the toys think Woody is a homicidal maniac for most of the original film. If you watch the two sequels, there is very little else behind the relationship dynamics of Andy’s toys than brotherhood. And while this is a heartwarming emotion to display, especially in a children’s film, it makes for some tepid character interactions. It’s funny that the first film in this trilogy is the most “grown up.”
The original also doesn’t concern itself with the overly elaborate set pieces that the two sequels do. There’s no crossing of a busy street, jumping out of an airplane, or a near death experience in a garbage incinerator. And though all of those scenes are well done in their respected films, they don’t really hold a candle to the dialogue scenes in the first film; like the first fifteen minutes (Andy’s birthday – which is pretty much near perfection as far as animated films go) or Buzz being dressed up as Ms. Nesbitt, or Woody admitting to Buzz his feelings of abandonment. The craziest this film gets is in the final “chase scene” which really only lasts about four minutes.
If I were forced to sum up all of the things that makes the original “Toy Story” better than the two sequels, it would really only come down to one thing for me… or I should say one person. Joss Whedon. His name appears first on the “Written by” credits and his ear for dialogue and ingenious ideas comes through loud and clear. I can’t pretend to know who wrote exactly what in a script with four different names attached to it, but I have a pretty good idea that everything that sets this film apart from its two sequels was contributed by Mr. Whedon. The man just knows how to write a damn good story.
I think that the best thing I can say about the “Toy Story” trilogy is that despite my adamant opinion that this first film is the best of the bunch, my appreciation of the other two films hasn’t really diminished. They are both fantastic films in their own right, with their own strengths and weaknesses. And at the end of the day, I can’t think of many other film trilogies that I can say that same thing about. So congratulations to Disney and Pixar. Now just don’t push your luck with a fourth.