I guess I’m not cynical enough. Whenever a studio releases a DVD that features a nice, clean print of a film, along with a pile of bonus features, I figure that should be the end of it. I understand the desire to revisit movies after lengths of time divisible by five, but maybe those retrospective documentaries should receive their own releases, five- or ten-buck offerings that I can stick on the shelf next to the original and be done with it.
Boy, I’d make a crappy studio CEO.
Okay, admittedly, “Toy Story” is a phenomenal, groundbreaking movie that deserves some extra-special attention a decade after its release. I mean, not only was it the first full-length feature created entirely with computers, but it sports one hell of a story to boot. Pixar’s achievements over the past ten years rival those of Disney in the early days, which is probably why The House of Mouse would love to bury the hatchet with Steve Jobs and figure out a new distribution deal.
And, yeah, people on the Internet are gushing over the quality of this print, but don’t forget that these are the same people who will buy this movie again on Blu-ray, and again on the 35th anniversary holodisc edition, etc. Not to disparage them, of course, but the way they scrutinize film prints and soundtracks is alien to the vast majority of DVD buyers, myself included. If a film looks and sounds good and the DVD release has the bonus features I’m looking for, I’m happy. I’m also not terribly interested in buying movies over and over again.
However, if you don’t have a copy of “Toy Story,” yet, or if you’re looking for a reference-quality print of the film, then this is the DVD for you. I don’t have a super-duper home theater set-up, so I’m going to trust those who do when they say that this print of the film is exquisite.
But if you already have Pixar’s awesome “Ultimate Toy Box” set, which includes both “Toy Story” films as well as a disc of bonus materials, I think you’re in good shape, unless, of course, you’re into the whole print quality thing, or you’re a Pixar completist. As far as I know, all the extra materials from that release are here, along with some new documentary stuff that celebrates the film’s place in history, such as “Filmmakers Reflect” and “Legacy of Toy Story.” The “Making Toy Story” and “Designing Toy Story” featurettes are billed as new, but some of the footage in them was recycled from the “Ultimate Toy Box” stuff.
The Behind the Scene section on disc two is pretty much all repurposed from that box set too, as far as I can tell. It includes oodles of original art, publicity materials, stills, etc. It’s truly like opening up Pixar’s vaults and taking a look at what’s in there. A new game, The Claw, is also included. It’s fun to play a couple times, but it gets old fast.
Deleted scenes tend to be a little silly when it comes to animated films, since they’re typically in the form of storyboards or rough animation, but I still like them. You get 19 minutes worth of such scenes in this set, complete with introductions by members of the creative team. As an aspiring screenwriter, I enjoy watching such stuff and playing Monday morning quarterback with the material. Your mileage may vary.
Finally, there’s a scene-specific audio commentary with John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Ralph Eggleston, Bill Reeves, Ralph Guggenheim and Bonnie Arnold. It’s the same one that was in the “Ultimate Toy Box” set. Like any Pixar commentary, it’s full of great insights into the creative process. In a nice touch, the producer of the new DVD inserted text captions that tell you who’s speaking, which helps when you have so many people on one track.
Of course, no Pixar DVD would be complete without Easter eggs, and there are plenty of those for you to find in this release. Luckily, a semi-hidden selection called Toy Story Treats lets you access all of them without hunting around.
You probably noticed that I didn’t include my thoughts on the film itself, as I typically do in my DVD reviews. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume that you already know the plot and have your own opinion of the film by now. If you haven’t seen it yet, please do yourself a favor and rent it right away. Hell, go ahead and make this a blind purchase; it’s worth it. And I don’t care if your response is “I hate kids’ films!” Like all of Pixar’s movies, this one can be equally appreciated by children and adults.
Oh, and, as Pixar CEO Steve Jobs often says when he delivers keynotes for that other tech company he works for, there’s one more thing: Expect a “Toy Story 2” Special Edition this Christmas. I can only assume it will be followed sometime next year by a box set that includes both new versions of the films. Hopefully Buena Vista will stop there, at least until next-generation DVD—whatever it turns out to be—reaches full steam.