Converting Pixar's history-changing cartoons Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999) into 3D and pairing them, in theaters, for a double feature reminds us how very good these movies were and remain, how great the computer animation is, and how witty and sentimental the scripts are.
Their two-week stay in America's theaters also gets the word out to folks that, yes, Disney and Pixar's Toy Story 3 (Andy goes to college; the toys are donated to a day care where "no toy gets left behind") is coming out in June. And if this new 3D double feature takes screens away from rival Sony's adorable 3D animated hit Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, that's just a bonus, right?
The movies look fabulous. Remember when the toy soldiers (R. Lee Ermey voices the Sarge) recon Andy's birthday party to report on what new toys he's been given? The walkie-talkie they tote downstairs practically jabs you in the eye. When Woody and Buzz are riding that radio-controlled car with a firecracker strapped to Buzz's back, Woody's open-mouthed high-G look of horror is in your lap.
But that's also the problem with this reissue: "remembering." Back in its golden age, Disney put its classic cartoons back in theaters every few years, letting new generations discover Lady and the Tramp, Pinocchio, 101 Dalmatians and The Jungle Book for themselves. In the age of video, that special-experience novelty is gone. When the kids know the words to You've Got a Friend in Me, when parents know every line — blasting from the DVD player in the back seat — what's the point?
And what child younger than 10 is going to sit still in a movie theater for three hours?
Fans, however, will want to check this out just for the delightful wrapping Pixar put on the pairing. They created a new intro, "Maximizing your Toy Story double-feature experience," and there's an intermission featurette that shows original test footage of Woody and Buzz and other chunks of Toy Story trivia.
Lastly, they've changed the credits to reflect those behind the camera and in front of the microphone who have died in the 14 years since Toy Story came out. (Lexington native Jim Varney, who voiced Slinky Dog, died in 2000.)
The great voice acting, the visual puns (virtual realty will sell your house), the one-liners — Buzz Lightyear is called "Mr. Light Beer" at one point — all added up to an animation game changer in 1995. The 3D depth of field — taking us into this toy world — is impressive. But three hours of rewatching movies you probably have at home, even in 3D? That's almost a Toy too far.