Film Face-off: 'Toy Story' vs. 'The Lego Movie'

Film Face-off: 'Toy Story' vs. 'The Lego Movie'

Feb 10, 2014

We've come a long way in 19 years. Way back when in 1995, Pixar made a movie about children's toys. The folks there called it Toy Story. Now, in 2014, Warner Bros. made a movie about children's Legos. The studio called it The Lego Movie. Both films attempt to capture adventure and heartfelt spirit for kids of all ages (adults included).

This week's Film Face-off will only focus on the first Toy Story film and not the trilogy, which stands as one of the best trilogies along with Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Richard Linklater's Before series. We won't have CGI as a category, because it's no contest. In rewatching Toy Story I was surprised how far we've come with crisp, clean computer-generated images. Everything else is fair game, so let's see which childhood pastime is the best cinematic art/product out there.

 

The Message

Toy Story

Be nice to each other. Share the spotlight. Work as a team.

The Lego Movie

You are special. Don't always follow instructions. Work as a team.

Winner: Toy Story. Obviously we have to throw out "working as a team," since both films use it. Let's focus on children for a second, since they are our future. Which message do you want kids to hear? That's where Toy Story wins for me. Attempting to be nice, even when you are jealous, is a good thing. Woody (Tom Hanks) has a difficult time with this when Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) shows up. I don't need my kid to believe he's naturally special. He needs to know he's loved, and we'll always be there for him, but special is special. If everyone is special, nothing is special. Also, it's very odd that the secondary message for The Lego Movie is to not follow instructions. Isn't that where most of the Lego money comes from? Building the exact thing you see on the cover of the box? Yes, I'm taking the movie a little too seriously in this regard.

 

The Two Leads

Toy Story

Woody is a toy cowboy who leads Andy's room full of toys. When Buzz Lightyear shows up, Woody feels threatened as the others flock to the new toy on the block.

The Lego Movie

Emmet (Chris Pratt) is a construction worker who just wants to have friends. There is a prophecy, and Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) hopes to be the chosen one, but that fate falls to Emmet.

Winner: Toy Story. It's like our version of Felix and Oscar in The Odd Couple. Woody and Buzz are perfectly uncomfortable together. The majority of the humor comes from Buzz believing he's not a toy, but an actual space ranger. The bickering and adventure all stem from that. Emmet is in love with Wyldstyle upon first look. While the jokes seem fresh, we've seen the slow-motion lost in love thing plenty of times before. Trying to convince a toy he's a toy was something new. Also, while I love Pratt and Banks, the star power of Hanks is enough to beat them both.

 

The Others

Toy Story

The supporting cast is Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, Wallace Shawn as Rex, John Ratzenberger as Hamm, Jim Varney as Slinky Dog, and Annie Potts as Bo Peep.

The Lego Movie

The supporting cast is Will Ferrell as President Business, Morgan Freeman as Vitruvius, Will Arnett as Batman, Liam Neeson as Bad Cop, and Alison Brie as Unikitty.

Winner: The Lego Movie. Oh wait, I'm not done with The Lego Movie yet. There's also Charlie Day, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Cobie Smulders, Nick Offerman and Billy Dee Williams. Care to guess who Williams voices? Toy Story's only celebrity toy is Mr. Potato Head. It feels like a missed opportunity. There are plenty of celebrity toys in The Lego Movie, but there's still room for plenty more. Did you notice all of the superheroes were DC characters only? That's some interesting synergy, Warner Bros. Thankfully, the entire film didn't play by those rules, with Star Wars getting a scene.

 

The Chase

Toy Story

Woody and Buzz need to get onto the moving truck. They use the remote-controlled car, Slinky Dog and a firecracker to get themselves back to Andy.

The Lego Movie

Emmett and Wyldstyle need to get away from Bad Cop. She builds them an elaborate motorcycle and takes them through the town, with the fuzz hot on their trail.

Winner: The Lego Movie. The Toy Story chase has everything you'd want. It's creative, and there's even callbacks with Buzz flying. It's just not as visually explosive and entertaining as The Lego Movie. There are so many moving pieces to the chase, and I absolutely love how Master Builders like Wyldstyle see the pieces within their surroundings that they need to create.

 

The Music

Toy Story

"You've Got a Friend in Me" by Randy Newman.

The Lego Movie

"Everything Is Awesome!!!" by Tegan and Sara, and Jo Li.

Winner: Toy Story. If we were strictly talking about humorous lyrics, The Lego Movie would win. Especially if you add Will Arnet's "Untitled Self Portrait" to the mix. "Everything Is Awesome!!!" is a good/bad song. It's supposed to be making fun of bad pop lyrics along with the mindless view of the animated world, and it does a really good job. It's a hard song to shake from your head. Newman's song is the first thing that pops into my mind when I think of Toy Story. It perfectly sums up the hope you have with Toy Story, that friendship can get you through anything.

 

OVERALL WINNER: Toy Story beats The Lego Movie, 3-2.

It's weird. Toy Story is my least favorite of the Toy trilogy. While it beat The Lego Movie in this Film Face-off, when it's all said and done, I think there's a really good chance that The Lego Movie is a more entertaining film compared to Toy Story. Time will tell, and after my son and I watch each one a dozen times, I'll let you know what I decide. I just love that we have movies about toys that don't feel simply like a commercial for the product. The best part is that each film captures the movements of the toys. There is nothing better than Woody running, with his arms flapping in the breeze. Watching Emmet hold hands, or the Batmobile explode (into little Lego pieces) is a close second.

 

 

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