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Do you really think toys become “real” when humans are not around? Toy Story (1995), a family film directed by John Lasseter, follows the adventures where toys live in a secret life (they are real) when people are not there. Its main characters are an out of fashion cowboy toy and the awesome and new space ranger toy who wants to replace him as Andy’s favourite toy. And they both have a common villain, the kid who lives next door. All this makes Toy Story “A visionary roller-coaster ride of a movie” as Roger Ebert says on his webpage crit.
|Image 1 - Toy Story Poster|
This film review is not only about Toy Story itself, but also about the Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey is what makes a good story and is one of the best resources for writers. It was written by Christopher Vogler and it is about 17 different steps that are on each phase of the hero.
This film review will be about the hero’s journey related to Toy Story. This film is a good example because, even though it doesn’t have every step exactly like the Hero’s Journey outlines, it is very close. There is no just one hero, there are two. Woody and Buzz are the main characters and also the heros. They both have to go on this emotional journey: Woody has to deal his fears of having to share Andy, and Buzz has to learn what the real world is like and that he is just a toy. So, during the movie they combine and flip the stages of the hero’s journey between them.
The movie starts with the first stage: “The Ordinary World”. “The ordinary world” is the world where Andy and the toys live. The toys come to life when Andy is not around. They live free, happily and comfortably.
But then, something new arrives to change “the ordinary world”, and this is the next stage: the “call to adventure”. It is Andy’s birthday party and he gets a new present - Buzz Lightyear – the newest, coolest Space Ranger Hero toy. Buzz replaces Woody as Andy’s favourite toy. Woody – the Old West sheriff toy - tells himself that this new toy is not going to change anything.
Woody’s “refusal of the call” is about fear. Woody refuses the call of adventure when he thinks that Buzz isn’t the coolest toy and he believes that he is still Andy’s favourite toy. But everything has change and even though Woody tries to keep his authority, Buzz disrupts the ordinary world they were living in, and make the other toys being eager to be his friend and find more about him.
|Image 2 - Film Still|
About the “supernatural aid”, this is not much seen in Toy Story though they both take sometimes that role. Woody mentors Buzz and shows him around the world of the toys. And always through an indirect way, there are some other moments where Buzz becomes Woody’s mentor as he teaches Woody that he will still be loved even if someone else holds the rank of “Andy’s Favourite Toy”.
“Crossing the Threshold” is one of the most important steps and it happens when the adventure begins. Woody and Buzz are the main heroes because they go on in their adventure and in this case Buzz and Woody begin their adventure going out of the window as a result of an accident. So, they are both in this new scary world.
The next step is the “Belly of the Whale” and it happens when they have to fight out some battles. In this case, Buzz and Woody get into the arcade game where they find their new friends. They are meeting new people in their adventure. This phase is about what this other world is about.
The “Road of Trials” is when the main characters have to face even more battles. Woody is desperately trying to achieve his goal, which is getting back home to Andy. And Buzz refuses being just a toy. They also get in trouble because of Sid, the bad kid of the neighbourhood.
“Meeting with the Goddess” is the reversal of the Goddess. Sid is the opposite of the Goddess as he is always torturing toys. And this is the moment when they realize that they really need to get out of this situation.
Buzz’s “Temptation” (“Woman as Temptress”) is when he tries to give up his life. Buzz realizes that Woody was all right and he is just a toy. And Woody has his “Atonement with the Father” when he realizes that his pride has led to his fall. He has been abandoned by his friends because of being jealous and selfish. And he has also lost Andy because he is about to die.
But they didn’t give up. The “Apotheosis” is when Woody, Buzz and other Sid’s toys fight the main battle. They break the rules and come to life in front of Sid. After they fight out the main battle and get out of Sid’s yard, Woody and Buzz reconcile and this is the “Ultimate Boon”. They start working together as a team.
But there is still a long way to go, and this is the next point: “The Magic Fight”. Woody and Buzz are going back home. They see Andy’s moving truck and they chase it.
|Image 3 - Film Still|
Woody and Buzz realize that they need friendship. Woody also realizes that Buzz is not just a toy and he can do something more. And this is the “Rescue from Without”: Buzz uses his retractable wings to fly and catch Andy’s car. Woody and Buzz “Cross the Return Threshold” when they get into Andy’s car and Andy is happy because he has found them again. “The Master of Two Worlds” is when they all arrive at Andy’s new home.
And finally, the last step is “Freedom to Live”. It is Christmas and Andy is opening new toys. Woody and Buzz are happy to be friends. Buzz seems to be quite nervous because of the idea of being replaced as Andy’s favourite toy, and Woody is relaxed as he knows that he is still loved even if Andy has more than one favourite toy.
|Image 4 - Film Still|
This 81 minute running time story was the first Pixar feature film animated entirely by computer. Roger Ebert said: “Watching the film, I felt I was in at the drawn of a new era of movie animation, which draws on the best of cartoons and reality, creating a world somewhere in between, where space not only bends but snaps, crackles and pops”. This means that it is a film where the characters are done in three-dimensions and they seem to be quite real, which is something that the traditional drawing cannot fully achieve.
Toy Story is an all audience hyperrealist film where imagination is an important part of a kid’s playtime: “It’s that the rarest of all films, the one that can unify, not divide, the generations, as both teenagers and their more innocent parents can connect with it. And of course for the kids, it’s pure balm from heaven” (Stephen Hunter, Baltimore Sun, 1995).
In conclusion, Toy Story is an amazing film where characters demonstrate loyalty, courage and teamwork. Still recommended nowadays, and still having a long way ahead as Buzz Lightyear’s most memorable quote says: “To infinity and beyond”.
Ebert, Roger (1995) “Toy Story” At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/toy-story-1995 Accessed on: 04/12/2016
Hunter, Stephen (1995) “Toy Story looks funny, feels great Movie review: Computer wizardry is the least of this delightful movie’s pleasures”. At: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1995-11-22/features/1995326035_1_toy-story-graf-zepplin-meets-toy Accessed on: 04/12/2016
Minow, Nell (2003) “Toy Story (1995)” At https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/toy-story-1995# Accessed on: 04/12/2016
Figure 1. Toy Story (1995) [Film Poster] At: http://www.disney.co.uk/toy-story/pictures Accessed on: 04/12/2016
Figure 2. [Film Still] At: http://thestorydepartment.com/structure-toy-story-1/ Accessed on: 04/12/2016
Figure 3. [Film Still] At: http://toystory.disney.com/ Accessed on: 04/12/2016
Figure 4. [Film Still] At: http://www.disney.co.uk/toy-story/pictures Accessed on: 04/12/2016