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Toy Story

Toy Story  

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  1. 1. Does "Toy Story" belong on the AFI list?

    • Yes 🚀
      8
    • No 🧨
      6

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  • Poll closed on 06/28/19 at 07:00 AM

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Posted (edited)

This week Paul & Amy play with 1995's pioneering CGI adventure Toy Story! They learn about the surprising career of Randy Newman, ask if Sid was really such a bad kid, and debate whether the film was a greater triumph for art or commerce. Plus: Annie Potts, the voice of Bo Peep, tells us how she joined the film, and Josh Cooley shares what it was like to direct Toy Story 4.

What Pixar film would you put on the AFI list? Call the Unspooled voicemail line at 747-666-5824 with your answer, and join us next week for Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing! Follow us on Twitter @Unspooled, get more info at unspooledpod.com and don’t forget to rate, review & subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts. Photo credit: Kim Troxall

Edited by DanEngler

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I'm going to make a controversial statement and say I don't really like Toy Story. I can see the quality of the movie and appreciate it as a technological step forward but I've seen it twice without any emotional attachment to anything.

I like Toy Story 2. I love Toy Story 3 and very openly wept in the theater when I saw it. Toy Story 3 leaves me cold. 

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24 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

I'm going to make a controversial statement and say I don't really like Toy Story. I can see the quality of the movie and appreciate it as a technological step forward but I've seen it twice without any emotional attachment to anything.

I like Toy Story 2. I love Toy Story 3 and very openly wept in the theater when I saw it. Toy Story 3 leaves me cold. 

I agree with you, although I wouldn’t say Toy Story leaves me completely cold. I do, however, prefer both TS2 and TS3.

I’m really struggling with whether it belongs on the list or not. I feel like it’s part of the whole “first one” problem. That being said, I ranked it higher than I would have thought on my personal list. Essentially, I kept asking myself “Given the choice between these two movies, which movie would I rather re-watch?” and went through my list until I reached a movie I’d rather re-watch than Toy Story.

That being said, all that really proves is that it’s a more enjoyable movie to watch not that it’s better movie. I don’t have a problem with Pixar being represented, I just feel like Toy Story isn’t even the best of its own series, let alone their entire catalogue.

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38 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

I agree with you, although I wouldn’t say Toy Story leaves me completely cold. I do, however, prefer both TS2 and TS3.

I’m really struggling with whether it belongs on the list or not. I feel like it’s part of the whole “first one” problem. That being said, I ranked it higher than I would have thought on my personal list. Essentially, I kept asking myself “Given the choice between these two movies, which movie would I rather re-watch?” and went through my list until I reached a movie I’d rather re-watch than Toy Story.

That being said, all that really proves is that it’s a more enjoyable movie to watch not that it’s better movie. I don’t have a problem with Pixar being represented, I just feel like Toy Story isn’t even the best of its own series, let alone their entire catalogue.

"Leaves me cold" is harsh. I guess I just don't see anything in it that I actively enjoy? It's fine but meh. I've seen it twice and I can't imagine choosing to watch it again unless someone else really wanted to.

I do agree with you on the being first. I do think the movie is good and it's obviously beloved. So, it might "deserve" to be on the list even though I think the latter two are much more enjoyable.

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I ended up voting “no.” I love the movie, but like they said in a previous episode, if you want to make a list about “first of their kinds,” then cool. Do that. And I’m not saying influence can’t be a part of the criteria. But I would very much prefer the list to be comprised of the best movies - whatever the genre or medium - and I can think of plenty of other Pixar movies that I think are more deserving. 

Toy Story is a fascinating template for Pixar’s success, but for me, including it would be like saying Da Vinci’s preliminarily rough sketch of the Mona Lisa is better than the finished product.

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I haven't listened to the ep yet, so I'm jumping the gun a bit here, but wanted to add my two cents on the first vs best conundrum. My thought is that if this were the list of AFI's most influential movies, then the first should definitely go on the list. But it's not. It's a list of the AFI TOP 100 movies. As I think we've seen with some of these before, a "first" isn't always the "best." There's something to be said about being the first to do something, to change the way we see things, but I think any Star Wars fan will agree that Empire is better than A New Hope. Second seasons of television shows are often better than the first. On one hand, we should recognize the invention of new forms and trail blazers in art, but If we're judging perfection here, I'd put the best over the first. 

Also, as we've reached 50+, if there's one thing I've learned about these rankings, is that I'm absolutely no good at sorting them out individually. What makes 2001 a great film is so different from what makes Citizen Kane or The Wizard of Oz great films. I can put them in groups, but individually I'm stumped. 

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4 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

I ended up voting “no.” I love the movie, but like they said in a previous episode, if you want to make a movie about the “first of its kind,” then cool. Do that. And I’m not saying influence can’t be a part of the criteria. But I would very much prefer the list to be comprised of the best movies - whatever the genre or medium - and I can think of plenty of other Pixar movies that I think are more deserving. 

Toy Story is a fascinating template for Pixar’s success, but for me, including it would be like saying Da Vinci’s preliminarily rough sketch of the Mona Lisa is better than the finished product.

I was literally going to make a Mona Lisa reference in my post before this response loaded on my feed, but took it out. I agree with you completely.

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7 minutes ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

I think any Star Wars fan will agree that Empire is better than A New Hope.

I don't. I like that the original is a true standalone movie, and to me some of the cheesier moments are charming.

But I get the point. I voted Yes on Toy Story remaining on the list, but if it were to be replaced with another Pixar entry I would be okay with that too. I think it's the representative mostly because of when the poll was taken.

So a question to the board: which Pixar would you pick? Mine is WALL-E. I think that's a flat masterpiece.

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6 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

So a question to the board: which Pixar would you pick? Mine is WALL-E. I think that's a flat masterpiece.

I would be happy with Wall-E on the list. It's not necessarily my favorite Pixar movie, but I think it is probably the best example of what they do.

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Hard "no". The human characters are nightmarish, the jokes are all very "first thought", it's clear which parts of the dialog were voiced early in the process (where the actors sound big and theatrical before relaxing into natural performances), and Randy Newman is like nails on the chalkboard of my soul. If either WALL-E or The Incredibles were added to the list, they would merit a spot much higher than #99.

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2 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

I don't. I like that the original is a true standalone movie, and to me some of the cheesier moments are charming.

I FINALLY FOUND SOMEONE ELSE!!!!!!!

I prefer Star Wars to Empire. I like the world and world building more. Empire is better filmed and looks amazing. I love Yoda. But I also find the Millennium Falcon is a monster asteroid section kind of unnecessary.

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50 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

I FINALLY FOUND SOMEONE ELSE!!!!!!!

I prefer Star Wars to Empire. I like the world and world building more. Empire is better filmed and looks amazing. I love Yoda. But I also find the Millennium Falcon is a monster asteroid section kind of unnecessary.

TBH, Jedi is my favorite. But it is also the first movie I ever saw in a theater. (yes, I'm dating myself on that). I remember looooooooving the Ewoks as a girl. In fact, I think The Ewok Adventure should be covered by HDTGM. 

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7 minutes ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

TBH, Jedi is my favorite. But it is also the first movie I ever saw in a theater. (yes, I'm dating myself on that). I remember looooooooving the Ewoks as a girl. In fact, I think The Ewok Adventure should be covered by HDTGM. 

I watched Ewok Adventure every day for a month because it's the only Star Wars movie we had on VHS.

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I also prefer Star Wars (A New Hope) to Empire. Like SyCasey, A New Hop feels more like a complete movie. It’s for that reason I rarely like the middle act of a trilogy.

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25 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

A New Hop feels more like a complete movie.

🤔

hop-4.jpg

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17 minutes ago, DanEngler said:

🤔

hop-4.jpg

Hell Yeah, I want more of those James Marsden/Russell Brand Easter shenanigans!

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I also voted no. For the simple reason that I believe #3 is better. I do think I like all three fairly equally, but the change in the second two is that they feel more about characters and less about 'toys', and that is an improvement for me.

I can understand why a 'first' is often used to represent something, but the converse of pioneering something is that the first one can suffer for being a bit of a novelty. And I think there's a little of that here.

I called the film 'product placement' in my Letterbox review, which is close to what Amy was expressing in it being too corporate. I'm not anti-corporate (used to be, less so now as I get older). But I definitely think that vibe is why I'd keep this version off the list.

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I was a Warner Bros partisan as a kid, who disliked Disney cartoons for being dull & much less funny. Toy Story seemed like just another Disney movie, just with computer animation, so I avoided subsequent Pixar films (although my family brought me along to see Up years later). I had thought that separated me from the rest of my generation, who seem to have such attachment to many Pixar films (at least with Harry Potter I read up through Goblet of Fire, even if I also only saw the first movie). I see that others are dissenting here, so I suppose I'm not alone (with Amy) in not being that impressed by the original Toy Story.

Also, toys are indeed inanimate objects. It's fine to mutilate them, put them back together, blow them up, etc. Spike Jonze had the best take on Pixar-esque objects (such as their iconic lamp) in this commercial:

 

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I genuinely did not expect this to be the tenor of the room!  First off, I would describe my feelings as similar to Amy's, in that I don't necessarily think that this is the best Pixar film, but I would "yes" on keeping it on the list.  Like some others here, I think Toy Story 3 is a better film overall (though I'm baffled by the love for Toy Story 2, which I thought was pretty bad), and my pick for best Pixar film is WALL-E.

So once again, we have a debate over whether a groundbreaking development is more or less deserving to be on the AFI list than a more perfected version of the art form.  (I say "again," because this was a huge part of the discussion about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which received "yes" votes on this forum by a 2:1 ratio, which is largely how I expected this vote to go.  For the record, I voted "no", as I tried to justify here: http://forum.earwolf.com/topic/60346-snow-white-and-the-seven-dwarfs/?page=4&tab=comments#comment-296685 )

First off, I want to rule out Toy Story 3, and it largely leans on the criteria that AFI asked jurors to consider in their voting: critical recognition, major award competition, popularity over time, historical significance, and cultural impact.  Of those five areas, historical significance is the one that points strongly for both Toy Story and Snow White, but I would argue that weighing popularity over time and cultural impact would lead one to take Toy Story over any of its sequels, since the sequels were only possible because people connected with the characters in the original and wanted to see them more.  Now, Toy Story 3 probably wins in major award competition, having earned a best picture nomination, but as pointed out in the podcast, Toy Story's critical recognition is just about as spotless as it gets.  So I really feel like when it comes to sequels that work because of an investment in characters introduced and developed in the original, it's hard for me to say that they could deserve to be on the list.  (We'll see if I change my mind for Godfather Part II!)

So then what about other Pixar films?  I made the argument in the Snow White discussion that if no Disney film was of high enough quality to be considered among the top 100, I didn't want to put a token one on the list.  I'll make the opposite but correlating argument here: if multiple Pixar films are of high enough quality to be considered among the top 100, I'm fine with putting two of them on.  So I vote for WALL-E and Toy Story to both make the list.

Other random things from the podcast and elsewhere on this thread: 

  • Amy complained that so many of the jokes in Toy Story are based on homonyms, and while that's true, it's also extremely true of Airplane!  Surely you can't seriously decry the comedy of wordplay, Amy?  (She is serious, and don't call her Shirley.)
  • 7 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

    Toy Story is a fascinating template for Pixar’s success, but for me, including it would be like saying Da Vinci’s preliminarily rough sketch of the Mona Lisa is better than the finished product.

    This is a pretty harsh analogy for a film that was almost a decade in the making.  I get what you're saying, that you think the sequels are more refined versions.  But as discussed on the podcast, Toy Story had an actual first draft, and a second draft, and a third draft, and rewrite upon rewrite to make these characters ultimately worthy of those sequels.  I'd counter with the analogy that Toy Story is like "Please Please Me," the Beatles debut album, and Toy Story 3 is like "Revolver."  Hell yes, I think "Revolver" is the better album, but the Beatles wouldn't haven't gotten to make a 7th album if their first hadn't gotten them the recognition it did.

  • As I've said before on one of these other threads unrelated to Star Wars that somehow evolved into a Star Wars discussion, the difference between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back is a perfect illustration of the difference between a story and a script.  A New Hope has the better story and builds a world (and galaxy) that feels real and introduces characters that we understand.  Empire Strikes Back has the better script, with interesting plot turns and crackling dialogue.  I personally prefer watching Empire, but with the knowledge that it wouldn't be possible without the world-building in the original.

 

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3 minutes ago, bleary said:

First off, I want to rule out Toy Story 3, and it largely leans on the criteria that AFI asked jurors to consider in their voting: critical recognition, major award competition, popularity over time, historical significance, and cultural impact.

Yea that's true. I'll add, my ratings and answering the 'should this be on the list' more or less ignores the AFI's criteria. Perhaps the first film does meet the criteria better than the second two, or any other Pixar film, or just about any movie ever, come to think of it, but... I'm not sure much of those criteria are relevant to the question ("What is great?").

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26 minutes ago, bleary said:

This is a pretty harsh analogy for a film that was almost a decade in the making.  I get what you're saying, that you think the sequels are more refined versions.  But as discussed on the podcast, Toy Story had an actual first draft, and a second draft, and a third draft, and rewrite upon rewrite to make these characters ultimately worthy of those sequels.  I'd counter with the analogy that Toy Story is like "Please Please Me," the Beatles debut album, and Toy Story 3 is like "Revolver."  Hell yes, I think "Revolver" is the better album, but the Beatles wouldn't haven't gotten to make a 7th album if their first hadn't gotten them the recognition it did.

Yes, but are we rewarding the work that launches the career or the pinnacle of their endeavors? I agree with your Beatles analogy, but to my point, it would be like saying the best song The Beatles ever wrote was “Love Me Do” when we all know it was “Honey Pie.” 😜

I’m glad TS gave Pixar a future, but Im not willing to say it’s the best or most representative because of that.

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1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

Yes, but are we rewarding the work that launches the career or the pinnacle of their endeavors? I agree with your Beatles analogy, but to my point, it would be like saying the best song The Beatles ever wrote was “Love Me Do” when we all know it was “Honey Pie.” 😜

I’m glad TS gave Pixar a future, but Im not willing to say it’s the best or most representative because of that.

Honey Pie isn't even the best honey pie song on that album...the AFI should recognize Wild Honey Pie instead

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