The new Disney/Pixar movie, "Toy Story", is an impressive, action packed fun family film that is full of high-tech, high jinks. The film's innovative use of state of the art, 3D computer graphics, wonderful color and fast action, combined with a good plot and terrific dialogue brings a very special magical story to life.
As in the classics about inanimate toys coming to life this film will be a classic like "Pinocchio"," The Velveteen Rabbit", and "The Nutcracker." Like a good teddy bear, those classics are endearing and enduring over time. Moreover, the film reminds us of the great importance of toys in the lives of children. This holiday season careful thought should be given to the gifts for children.
"Toy Story" is about Andy, an active six year old devoted to his menagerie of toys.As the film opens he speaks for them during play. When Andy leaves the room the toys speak for themselves. Woody, the animated cowboy with a pullstring, reminded me of Howdy Doody, the classic puppet and early TV hero who had his own unique voice and a devoted following of young fans. The toys in the film share the old fashioned and most important values of friendship, loyalty and courage. One message they bring is that an old toy needn't be replaced by the newest space action figure such as the exciting, Buzz Lightyear. He is given as a brand new birthday gift for Andy. Regardless of how high tech and novel any new product may be there is still plenty of room in the child's heart for those classic toys that never go out of style. If you stop and think about it for a few mintues those old favorites will easily come to mind.
Children often have to face choices between the old and the new. These choices are not easy. Children learn many things through play. In fact play is the child's work and the way they learn best. There is a strong emotional bond between the child and his toys which althouogh not easily measured, can be observed. This bond of affection needs to be respected.
The cuddly teddy or raggedy doll is an important "lovey" to the child and is closely cherished. That toy provides the child comfort and someone to talk with. Parents and others must understand how essential these objects are to the child. These are not objects one takes away because, they are well worn with love. It is best not to separate the child from these objects, but rather to allow the child to give them up when he is ready.
The rest of the cast, in this well- paced humorous movie, are a whole clan of classic toys. They share with Woody the fear that they might be replaced in Andy's play. Some of those toys, including Mr. Potato Head, the Slinky Dog, Etch-A-Sketch, BoPeep, Rex, the Dinosaur, and Hamm, the piggy bank, come alive through clever innovations of computer graphics. The toys anxiously await news of Andy's birthday gifts. The deployment of small army figures sent out to scout the birthday party and to bring back the news to the rest of the toys is a very clever touch. Their actions show how seriously the toys take their role in Andy's life. They do not want to be discarded, abandoned, or not played with by him.
Children learn a great deal about social relationships through their play. In the film there are strong conflicts between good and evil. It is hard to watch Sid, the next door bully, damage his toys and then those of his sister. This kind of destructive behavior can unfortunately extend to sibs, pets and other children.
Play, a natural part of children's inner life, must be appreciated, observed and handled appropriately. If a child does something consistently destructive in their play it is essential that parents find out why so they can assist the child with whatever the problems may be. The toys are fortunately able to teach Sid an important lesson.
The most inspiring part of "Toy Story" is to see how loyalty, friendship and mutual concern develop between Woody and Buzz, who become pals, They have the duel challenge of fighting off the destructive bent of Sid and at the same time racing to reach Andy before he and his family move away.
Having a wholesome theme as part of a child's movie serves children well. This is an example of a positive and fun filled story that is a strong model. Good models in entertainment can help children to flourish and grow both mentally and physically healthy. Toys, an integral part of the child's entertainment link, need to be taken seriously. They serve to teach children many lessons. What we buy for children convey those messages and reinforce our own values.
The happy ending finds acceptance of the toys for themselves and their important role in Andy's life. Andy also finds out he can have it all, the old and the new. These are perfect heroes in a perfect family film for you to enjoy and to talk about with your children. Then,
(c) l995, 1996, 1997 Stevanne Auerbach, PhD San Francisco, CA.
This article may not under any circumstances be resold or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.
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