22 June 2010

Toy Story

So here we are, at Pixar's beginning. On a technical level, I have the same complaint I had when I saw this in theaters 15 years ago (jesus, I'm old, when did that happen?) -- such care went into the expressiveness and mobility of the toy faces -- Woody and Buzz look great and hold up quite well -- but the human children (and that dog, Scud) look like, I don't know, freaky Sims 2 characters. Dead-eyed wooden things with curled plastic lips and marionette movements. Compared to how well the toys themselves move, it almost feels like a choice, but if so I wish they hadn't made it. A friend of mine has a serious uncanny-valley phobia, and I bet she has a tough time watching this movie.

On a story level, it's interesting because Woody and Buzz both have to make the same emotional journey, realizing they are not the centers of their worlds, but they have to do so in drastically different ways: Woody has to accept that there is room for other "favorites," while Buzz has to accept that he's not a real spaceman, that he's not one in a million (in fact, there are a million just like him, literally). For the most part it's just a story of obstacles and getting back to Andy, so much of the story is given over to adventure sequences, and so sometimes the story feels light -- it is, after all, aimed at children -- but it never feels dumb, it never feels simple, and it never feels boring. A pretty damn nice first film.

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