I cannot think of a movie franchise that has meant more to our family over the years than Disney’s “Toy Story”. The adventures of Andy’s toys (Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and friends) were on repeat in our VCR (and later, DVD player) for years and years.
In fact, here’s something that might make you feel old like I do: on this day twenty years ago, the first “Toy Story” installment, starring Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, premiered in Hollywood at the El Capitan Theatre, with nationwide release three days later. When I learned that, I had another bittersweet moment of “Wow, time really does fly, doesn’t it?”
When the movie premiered, D was three and J was not yet a year old. We had been excitedly anticipating this Pixar/Disney creation and I’m pretty sure we took D to see it that first weekend. And again. And likely again. As soon as it was available on videotape we bought it. By that time D had the talking Buzz Lightyear action figure, “Toy Story” pajamas, and all kinds of other stuff. For his fourth birthday the following June, I gave him a space-themed birthday party and made him and all of his friends personalized jet packs out of cardboard boxes, silver spray paint, and red, yellow, and orange streamers (for the fire!) to wear on their backs in our yard.
As J got a little older, he too became attached to the movie and its characters. He was our little cowboy fan, carrying around a pull-string Woody doll (“Reach for the skyyyyy!”) so much that I had professional portraits taken of him with Woody.
In 1996 we took a family trip to Walt Disney World, further cementing their addiction.
(Yes, if you’re wondering, these pictures are a part of my “ABC Disney World scrapbook” that I described in my 2014 LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER reading.)
The original film will always be my favorite because it represents such an innocent and pure time in the history of our family. The boys were still little, I was working part-time in the nursery of a health club (so they went with me), and technology played such a minor part in our lives that when I think about it I long to go back there just for a couple of days. Memories of my boys running around the house with Buzz and Woody, screaming “To infinity and beyond!” and “There’s a snake in my boot!”, though filtered softly over time, will never be completely forgotten.
“Toy Story 2”, which introduced Jessie the cowgirl (Joan Cusack), was released in 1999 and our life was starting to pick up speed. D was in second grade, J was in preschool, and I was working in a different department at the health club. As it happens when kids become school-aged, our evenings became busy with homework and other activities, and we didn’t have Buzz and Woody on the television as much as we had before. Still, they were always there in the background.
The cruelest of jokes was played on us when “Toy Story 3”, the premise of which is Andy’s preparation for his freshman year at college, was released in the summer of 2010, when D was also preparing for his freshman year at college. I will never forget sitting there in the theater, crying my eyes out at the end because the feeling of the previous fifteen years of family life whooshing through my brain over the course of the film was crushing. I’m pretty sure we all were in need of tissues as the credits rolled.
Twenty years, you guys. Twenty years.
I think it’s been a while since I’ve reminded you of how time flies. It really does.
In this case though, I’m celebrating good memories of a happy family and two sweet, imaginative little boys who grew up to be pretty awesome young men. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Happy 20th, Buzz and Woody.