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Toy Story

Year: 1995
Production Co: Pixar
Studio: Disney
Director: John Lasseter
Writer: John Lasseter/Andrew Stanton/Peter Docter/Joe Ranft/Joss Whedon/Joel Cohen/Alec Sokolow
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Annie Potts, Laurie Metcalf, R Lee Ermey

It's easy to forget what a simple idea this film is and how many times the general premise had been done before. We'd been seeing the secret life of toys that are really alive in literature for a century and a half, from Hans Christian Anderson's The Steadfast Tin Soldier on up.

All that was left for Pixar to do was come up with a story about characters we'd all fall in love with, while Disney's long history of anthropomorphism and the cutting edge of digital animation would take care of the rest. And such wizardry was a much bigger deal in 1995 than it is in 2010 when there's a new film like it every other week, it seems.

But Pixar's oft-quoted dedication to story above all else paid off, and having the first completely computer animated feature film wasn't enough for them. The tale of the toys in a suburban kid bedroom captured hearts and the box office and signaled the arrival of a force that would become such a major player in Hollywood it would end up maneuvering a creative takeover of Disney entirely.

Whenever Andy goes to school or goes to sleep at night, his beloved collection of toys come to life and busy themselves with the task of maintaining their pecking order and relationships.

But Andy gets a new toy, Buzz Lightyear (Allen), and he's so besotted with it the jealous head of the gang, cowboy doll Woody (Hanks) decides Buzz can't stay. When he tricks the clueless interloper into falling out the window, it kicks off a chain of events that shows Woody the error of his ways and the whole group band together, using their unique skills to help save themselves from dogs, the multiple hazards of a pizza restaurant and the sadistic kid next door. Worse still, Andy and his mother are moving away, and Woody and Buzz have to get everyone back together safely before the truck leaves.

For all their spin about the story coming first, you can see the script has been polished and polished again until it positively gleams. Every opportunity to showcase the unique personality of the voice actors - particularly the two leads - showcase laughs and set up thrills and spills is taken, and they all hang neatly on a straightforward plot that works.

Aside from the pioneering of the technical wizardry, it was also the first movie to wrangle the blend of kid appeal and in-jokes for adults that's still a benchmark, so if you hate kids' movies this is the one most likely to win you over.

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