Review: ‘Toy Story’ brings childhood playthings to life at Lakes 12

“Toy Story” is the beloved modern children’s classic from Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios. The computer-generated animated movie features the vocal talents of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. The 1995 buddy comedy is back for a return engagement at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter.

Toys from the 1995 computer-animated children's movie "Toy Story" watch a boy as he leaves. Photo by Chris Hardy on

BAXTER — Ah, to be a kid again.

“Toy Story” encapsulates the wonder, imagination and fun of being a child and playing. The computer-animated feature film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures returns to the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter just in time for the holiday season.

Admission for any showing of “Toy Story” and other older classic movies is at the reduced price of $5. Matinee showings for new releases or first-run movies are offered at a discounted price.

The G-rated motion picture features the vocal talents of Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks and Golden Globe-winner Tim Allen of “Home Improvement” fame. The real stars, however, are the familiar childhood toys in the movie lovingly and painstakingly brought to life.

Hanks supplies the voice of Woody, a sheriff doll adored by Andy — that is until the boy is gifted a new toy, the action figure Buzz Lightyear, a gizmo-laden galactic hero played by Allen.


Woody the cowboy waves as the toy from "Toy Story," which was produced by Pixar Animation Studios, rests near the edge of a rug. Photo by Ali Kokab on

Andy’s toys come to life in the absence of people. They include Mr. Potato Head voiced by a persnickety Don Rickles, Rex the worrisome dinosaur played by Wallace Shawn, Hamm the noncommittal piggy bank voiced by John Ratzenberger and Jim Varney as Slinky Dog.

The old-fashioned Woody with his pull string of pre-recorded sayings, such as “Reach for the sky,” feels threatened and jealous of Buzz’s “laser,” the astronaut’s space-age flying wings and his future-promising catchphrase “To infinity and beyond!”

Buzz remains steadfast in the belief he is a genuine space ranger tasked with protecting the galaxy and it is up to Woody to convince the delusional plaything otherwise.

Woody accidentally knocks Buzz out of a window, but most of the other toys condemn Woody for what they believe is an act of betrayal. Loyal toys Bo Peep and Slinky side with Woody.

Woody, a cowboy toy from Disney's "Toy Story," gazes at the horizon while sitting on the edge of a dock. Photo by Zakaria Ahada on


Andy is allowed to take only one toy on the family trip to Pizza Planet and chooses Woody. Buzz has hitched a ride on their van, however, and the pair fight and fall out of the vehicle, but manage to make their way to the restaurant where they are snatched out of a toy vending machine.

Besides the big brewing showdown between Woody and Buzz for Andy’s affection, a neighbor boy Sid Phillips threatens all the toys’ existence with his penchant for destruction.

The child abuses his playthings in monstrous and cruel ways such as decapitating dolls and reassembling them in the Frankenstein-like ways. The mean-spirited boy has grander plans when Woody and Buzz accidentally make their way into his possession at Pizza Planet.

During their time in captivity, Woody cheers up a despondent Buzz, who finally realizes he is a toy, by telling Buzz that bringing joy to a child-like Andy is one of the most precious things any toy can do and together the former rivals team up to reunite themselves with Andy’s other toys.

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The 3-D animation of “Toy Story” was praised at the time for its technical innovation, and the motion picture holds a rare 100% rating and ratings aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

The humor and action appeals to children and adults, and the family-friendly film received three Oscar nominations. Frequent Disney collaborator singer-songwriter and composer Randy Newman was nominated for the unforgettably catchy “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”

"Toy Story" has spawned three sequels: "Toy Story 2" in 1999, "Toy Story 3" in 2010 and "Toy Story 4" in 2019, which were commercial successes and received critical acclaim.


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“Toy Story” was inducted into the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 2005 during the movie’s first year of eligibility.

Pixar has produced almost two dozen feature films since its first with “Toy Story,” which was released in 1995, but the first-ever computer-animated feature film is arguably one of its best, delighting both children and adults alike and spawning a franchise of movie sequels.

The buddy comedy includes notable award-winning actors and a behind-the-scenes roster of talented screenwriters, such as Joss Whedon of “Avengers,” Oscar-winner John Lasseter in his feature film directorial debut and was executive produced by the iconic Steve Jobs of Apple.


Pixar Animation Studios went on to produce other certifiable hits such as “A Bug’s Life” in 1998, “Monsters, Inc.” in 2001, “Finding Nemo” in 2003, “The Incredibles” in 2004, “Cars” in 2006, “WALL-E” in 2008, “Up” in 2009, “Inside Out” in 2015 and many more critically acclaimed films.

Many of those films can now probably be found in a child’s DVD collection and almost all of them hold a special place in their hearts.


FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at . Follow him on Twitter at .

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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