Essential plot rundown: Two toys struggle to accept one another. It has been a long time since I've seen this movie. As I was watching it, it made me remember, and long for, the good 'ol days of being a child and getting toys for my birthday. It created a sense of nostalgia.
With that said, this is a extremely well made movie. The plot is engaging. It was cool to see the dynamic between a toy who fully accepts his role and a toy who is in denial of who he is. It is an intriguing concept. And it really works on screen.
The characters are interesting. Each of the characters is well established with a personality. You get to know each of them over the course of the movie. And the voice actors are incredible. Every voice perfectly fits the character.
Something that really stood out to me this viewing was the noise, especially that of the toys inside of Sid's room. Every toy had a unique, interesting sound. And since this is an animated film, all of this sound had to be created. (They couldn't just go record some creepy baby erector set things crawling around). The sounds just really add to the overall atmosphere of the film. Props to the sound designers.
The music is also well done. Randy Newman's songs do a good job of letting us see into the minds of the characters. To me, it felt almost like a faux-musical. With musicals, the characters start singing, letting the audience know how they feel. While in Toy Story, Woody or Buzz do not randomly begin a song and dance number, the music of Randy Newman essentially plays the same role of expressing the characters. Newman perfectly captures Buzz's emotions as he slowly accepts that fact that he's a toy when he sang:
No it can't be true.
I could fly if I wanted to.
Like a bird in the sky,
I believe I can fly.
Why I'd fly.
Clearly now, I will go sailing, no more.
I'm sure there are other non musical movies that use music the same way, but I can't think of any at the moment. The songs are like another character, almost like a narrator. It's hard to think of Toy Story without thinking of "You've Got a Friend in Me".
Let's finish with the animation. There are parts that are certainly lacking, namely the smoke, drool, Scud and the humans. Also, there are times where the movement just doesn't look right. But, considering that Toy Story was made over 15 years ago and that it was the first feature length GC film, it holds up pretty well. There are two main reason why it still looks good today in my opinion. 1) The main characters are toys. It was good thinkin' on Pixar's part to choose toys as their first subject. Living things are hard to animate. But with toys, it's okay if they don't look real (because they're not). 2) It is an animated film. So, naturally, it's going to look a little "cartoony". If these were just SFX for a motion picture, they would look hokey and out of place. But, for what it is, the animation is great.
Overall, Toy Story is an exceptional movie. It has plot. It has characters. It has emotion. It is funny. This is a film that can be enjoyed by everyone, child or adult.
But that's just my opinion...