What makes a movie groundbreaking? That's a question I've often wondered for a long time now and it's a question that is honestly hard to answer. I do have somewhat of an idea though and to me, it's a film that does something revolutionary or has a brand new technique that changes the industry. The term has been thrown around a lot and it even has been slapped on a lot of animated movies. Some I think are well deserved while others I think are a little exaggerated. There are animated movies I do really, really love and think are fantastic, but I wouldn't go so far as to call them groundbreaking. With all that said though, "Toy Story" is a movie that I think deserves to be considered groundbreaking. At the time, the film was heavily praised by critics for being a game-changer for animation as it was the very first computer animated movie released. Though it's not the innovation that makes the film hold up to this day, it's the story, animation, and especially the characters. Those are the elements that audiences will be taking away from movies and personally, I think they are just as fantastic and memorable as ever as they were back in 1995.
A young boy named Andy (John Morris) like any kid has a lot of toys. Though what Andy doesn't know is that when no one is around, the toys come to life. One of these toys is a pull-string cowboy doll named Woody (Tom Hanks) who has been Andy's personal favorite toy for years and has also been the leader of the toys as well like a Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), a dinosaur toy named Rex (Wallace Shawn), a piggy bank named Hamm (John Ratzenberger), a Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), and a porcelain lamp doll of Bo Peep (Annie Potts). Though on the day of Andy's birthday party, his spotlight is stolen by a brand new action figure doll named Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) who actually believes that he is a real space ranger. Buzz quickly becomes Andy's new favorite toy and the rest of the toys come to marvel Buzz's impressive features which leaves Woody feeling left out and makes him jealous. However, the two then find themselves lost from home and eventually in the hands of Andy's toy abusing next-door neighbor Sid (Erik von Detten) and they both have to get back to Andy's house before his family moves to a new house.
It's really hard to say anything new about "Toy Story" that hasn't already been said. Back when it came out in 1995, CGI was primarily used for two things. Special effects for live action movies and TV commercials. The latter was what Pixar was essentially doing as a company at the time while also making the film. They previously attempted to sell software and an image computer and even made their four earliest animated shorts to promote it, but were unsuccessful at it which eventually led them to keep their animation division and spin off their software portion of the company. They definitely made the correct decision on that because "Toy Story" is indeed a fantastic movie to this date. The story really has a very creative world. The idea of inanimate objects coming to life in animation is a very old concept yet "Toy Story" makes it feel brand new again. I just love how the toys have their own personal world outside of being playthings for children. Not only that, it's simply likable which is saying something given how unlikeable it could've been. For those that don't know, the film was pushed by former Disney executive Jeffery Katzenberg to be edgier which resulted in Woody being so unlikeable that it led to a disastrous story reel. It's a good thing we didn't get that though since the story we did get is very likable and the filmmakers going with their gut rather than relying on studio notes was a very smart decision. Also, one thing I really love about the film is that Pixar decided to do their own style of film than try to imitate the ones from Disney Animation since this was a major downfall for a lot of bad animated movies from the '90s like "The Swan Princess", "Thumbelina", and "Quest for Camelot". Instead, Pixar decided to make their own film than try to copy the bigger studio and it was such a smart decision that I think more studios need to do. As far as the animation goes, it's still mostly pretty good. Although at times it has shown its age with the animation of the human characters as well as a few technical errors, I think it's still fantastic over twenty years later. The toy models, in particular, hold up especially well since they still look like plastic. Though what really still works about the film all these years later are the characters. They're all still so memorable and relatable all these years later. Woody and Buzz have essentially become such iconic characters and for good reason too. They both are great and one of the reasons it works so well is the voice work of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. It may have sounded so odd back in the day, but now you can't think of Woody or Buzz without thinking of Hanks or Allen. They're basically a huge reason to why the characters hold up.
After all these years, "Toy Story" still is a fantastic film that really changed animation. The story is likable and has a very creative world, the animation still mostly holds up, and the characters are all memorable. Not only did this become the movie that put Pixar on the map as a new major competitor in the industry, but it also changed the animation industry forever. It may have led to some bad things including the downfall of traditional animation, but I think it led to far more good. This film will continue to inspire to infinity and beyond.