The Toy Story films are undoubtedly the greatest animated trilogy ever. Revealing the secret lives of Buzz, Woody, and the rest of Andy’s toys after the lights turn out or doors closed, the movies rekindled our own childhoods in remembrance of a favorite doll or toy. And the good feelings we get from all three heartwarming films rank among the most touching in all animated cinema. The Toy Story saga ignites our imaginations in a way reminiscent of other great all-ages stories like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and Fantasia. They are truly movie magic.
A new book, The Toy Story Films – An Animated Journey catalogs the development of all three films, as well as the growth of Pixar as a company. The oversized book, packed with 192 pages of movie stills, storyboard sketches, character sculptures, and behind-the-scenes photos of the creators is a fitting tribute to a trilogy of fun, Easter Eggs and inside jokes … where everyone is an insider.
From the challenges of the initial effort (which Disney wanted to shut down because Woody and the other characters were jerks) to the glory of awards recognition, The Toy Story Films has it all. The stories spun by those involved in the movies’ development are plentiful and very enjoyable to read. For instance, when developing Woody’s Roundup characters, the team originally planned on developing a cactus character until director John Lasseter pushed them towards a cowgirl.
The cowgirl ended up being Jessie, of course, who had one of the most gut-wrenching lines in Toy Story 2: “You never forget kids like Emily or Andy, but they forget you.” There’s loads of trivia that will likely be new to even hardcore Pixar fans. Did you know that Lasseter originally pitched the idea of doing Toy Story 3 in 3-D by showing Michael Eisner his ideas on a View Master?
Tom Hanks talks about voice acting and Randy Newman sounds off on the composing. There’s plenty of insight from animators and producers, scientists and story artists, and lots from Lasseter. The book begins with a foreword from the incomparable Hayao Miyazaki before jumping into four main sections, one for the beginning of Pixar and a huge chapter for each film. It’s punctuated by an interlude on the time between the second and third films, as well as an epilogue called, fittingly, Beyond Infinity, and an afterword by John Lasseter.
It took fifteen years from the creation of Toy Story until Toy Story 3 was complete, a time so long that Lasseter points out “some of the people who worked on Toy Story 3 were first inspired to go into animation by watching the original Toy Story.” It was worth the wait. If you’re a Toy Story or Pixar fan, you must check out The Toy Story Films — it’s a very worthy and suitable companion and, best of all, it’ll help you fall in love with these glorious movies all over again.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of this book.