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Toys To Life is a 2020 American 3D computer animated comedy drama film produced by Blue Sky Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Michael Thurmeier and Galen T. Chu from a screenplay penned by James V. Hart, Jonathan Goldstein, Jenny Bicks, and Robert L. Baird, the film features the voices of Owen Laramore, Jenny Slate, Jimmy Fallon, Will Arnett, Idina Menzel, Catherine O'Hara, Nick Frost, Drew Barrymore, and James Corden, with Ella Anderson, Ellen Page, Sarah Vowell, Warwick Davis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jim Cummings, Benedict Wong, Chris Wedge, Dan Aykroyd, and Annie Potts in supporting roles. Composer John Powell, who had worked on prior Blue Sky films, returned to compose the score for Toys To Life.

In Toytown, a world entirely inhabited by anthropomorphic toys, John (voiced by Laramore) and his troopers must reach the human world to get a new exhibit to save the Toytown Museum from bankruptcy following the death of his mentor, Murray (voiced by Fallon). When things go right, however, they wind up in exile, to which John works to redeem his career and become the new king by saving it from Chalk, the giant cat who killed Murray.

Released theatrically on July 12, 2020, Toys To Life earned $575 million against a budget of $40 million, and was met with generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for its humor, animation, characters, concept, musical score, and performances (particularly Laramore, Slate, and Fallon). It was nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Song, but lost to "Nothing Gets In My Way". It even won three more: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Animated Feature. On December 19, 2025 (its first year of elligibility), Toys To Life became the first film Blue Sky Studios to be a part of the Library Of Congress' National Film Industry for being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

It is the first installment in the Toys To Life franchise. Three sequels, Toys To Life 2, Toys To Life 3, and Toys To Life 4 were released on March 25, 2023, March 9, 2026, and March 17, 2029.

Plot

John is a fellow who is a director of the Toytown Museum. Every day, he goes to work at opening time. His troopers, Ian, Tina, Ouch, Age, Rage, Page, and Cage, Ribbit, and Robone are his assistants. Little Spence has troopers: her mom, Mamo, Mousey, Ken, and the Red Monkeys. Anji has troopers: Unicorn Duck, White the PEZ Bunny, Diver, Dr. Hippo, and Pillow Dragon. His best friend is Murray, the king of Toytown. He knows John will be king one day. One day after work, a giant cat attacks Toytown, destroying one of the exhibits and killing Murray.

All of Toytown mourns for Murray's loss. At a restaurant, John and his troopers come up with a plan to replace the old exhibit with a new one. They take a plane to the den of John's former plush cat friend Chalk to get one. They return to Toytown and celebrate the new exhibit, but Chalk the party and frames John. Mamo begs John to quit museum work for his own good, but when John refuses, Chalk angrily firms his resolve and orders him and his troopers to leave.

Later, John gets a chance to get the king's crown, but bumps into Chalk. They argue over Murray's death and the exhibit, and Chalk leaves. The next thing he knows, when he tries to say he is about to become king, the Toytown citizens (except Little Spence, Anji, and their teams) turn their back on him in disbelief. Little Spence longs for John to come back, but Mamo holds her child back from him, saying that Toytown is better off without him.

Discouraged, John briefly gives up until Murray's sister Snake tells him that being king of Toytown is important to him, having to have had a change of heart. John's confidence returns after he figures out that Chalk was the giant cat that killed Murray. Chalk spies on them and rounds up most of the citizens of Toytown to fight John, saying that his actions will lead to death. They corner John and his troopers, offering John a choice: renounce the exhibit, or face the consequences.

John confesses that he is trying to become king and reveals Chalk's villainy to the Toytown citizens, prompting them to throw him into the dumpster. They start to run away, but Snake quickly pulls John into the dumpster with her, resulting John's troopers to follow them, and they are all emptied into a trash compactor. Mousey, Mamo, Little Spence, Ken, the Red Monkeys, and Anji follow the truck to rescue their friends. At the Toytown Landfill, John and his troopers are headed toward a garbage shredder.

John rescues Snake, but then they see a light (witch Ouch thinks is daylight), but the light is revealed to be an incinerator. Snake climbs to push the button, but Chalk intervenes and pushes John and his troopers into the fire. and his trooper When John and his troopers come closer to the fire, Little Spence and Anji rescue them, with help from their own teams. As Chalk is sent to prison, the toys of Toytown praise John and Snake as heroes and declare him the new king, while Snake becomes the surge protector.

Main Cast

Owen Laramore as John, a toy human action figure who is the director of the Toytown Museum and king of Toytown. When looking for voice actors for John, the team listened to a Disney In The House episode with Laramore as Mayor Lawrence Pierce, and, according to Wedge, though it sounded pretty neat. He is the film's protagonist.

Jenny Slate as Snake, a Bionicle and Murray's sister. The plan to have Snake as male was cancelled and worked out better as a female for comedic effect by listening to the lends into Slate's voice. She is the film's deuteragonist.

Jimmy Fallon as Murray, John's late mentor who gets killed by a real life cat that is revealed to be Chalk. Wedge met Fallon and asked if he would be interested in the voice of Murray. Fallon was delighted and signed on to the cast.

Will Arnett as Ian, a toy lion who is one of John's troopers. Leonardo DiCaprio was originally going to voice the character, but dropped out due to re-dubbed lines in the test screening, and passed the role to Arnett. He is the film's tritagonist.

Idina Menzel as Tina, a toy train who is one of John's troopers. When they heard her voice on Broadway "Let It Go" on Frozen, they asked her if she would be the voice of Tina. Menzel was very impressed and went on into the voice of her toy train character. She is the film's tetartagonist.

Catherine O'Hara as Ouch, a giant Tsum Tsum-like penguin plush who is one of John's troopers. Lucy Liu was considered for the role, but left the project, being replaced by O'Hara.

Nick Frost as Rage, Cage, Age, and Page, four yellow Let's Go Fishin' fishes who are part of John's team. Frost became the film's notable actor for the way he provided the voices for four fishes.

Drew Barrymore as Ribbit, a toy frog who is one of John's troopers. Sophie Turner, Dua Lipa, and Katherine McNamara were originally selected for the part, but their voices sounded a little too teenager-oriented, and Barrymore took over the role.

James Corden as Robone, a leaping toy robot dog who is one of John's troopers. In an interview of "The Late Late Show", Wedge knew that Corden's voice sounded pretty beautiful.

Sarah Vowell as Mousey, a small Ty beanie plush who is close neighbors with Mamo and Little Spence and one of Little Spence's troopers. Mousey is also Little Spence's best friend. Vowell's character was originally meant to be named Mini Worker, but that rumor was scrapped, and the character worked out better as a tiny TY Beanie baby elephant named Mousey for more comedic effect.

Ellen Page as Mamo, a toy Tonka truck who is Little Spence's mom.

Ella Anderson as Little Spence, a small toy Tonka truck who is Mamo's daughter.

Warwick Davis as Ken the Color Worm, a snake-like toy made of snap beads who is a citizen of Toytown and one of Little Spence's trooper. To record his lines, Davis recorded his snake-like voice of the character by providing real-life snake slithers.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Ronald, sergeant of his commando unit of four Red Monkeys.

Jim Cummings as Krasinski, one of Ronald's four Red Monkeys.

Benedict Wong as Brad, one of Ronald's four Red Monkeys.

Chris Wedge as Creeko, one of Ronald's four Red Monkeys.

Annie Potts as Anji, a angel figurine.

Dan Aykroyd as Chalk, a plush cat, John's former friend, and the film's main antagonist. He is also the the giant cat who killed Murray and brainwashed Snake.

Paige O'Hara as Unicorn Duck, a citizen of Toytown and one of Anji's troopers.

Campbell Scott as White the PEZ Bunny, a citizen of Toytown, and one of Anji's troopers.

Adam Scott as Alien 1#, one the Bendable Aliens Band.

Vanessa Williams as Alien 2#, one of the Bendable Aliens Band.

Martin Short as Alien 3#, one of the Bendable Aliens Band.

Jay Leno as Alien 4#, one of the Bendable Aliens Band.

Rupert Everett as Diver, a citizen of Toytown and one of Anji's troopers.

Janelle Monae as Dr. Hippo, a citizen of Toytown and one of Anji's troopers.

John DiMaggio as a construction worker who is a citizen of Toytown.

Rachel McAdams as Pillow Dragon, a citizen of Toytown and one of Anji's troopers.

Tony Cox as Dragon and Vacuum Truck, two citizens of Toytown.

Josh Dallas as Plush Dog, a citizen of Toytown.

Fred Tatasciore as Bouncy Shark, a citizen of Toytown

Bill Farmer as Orange Ninja, a citizen of Toytown.

Home Media

Toys To Life was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 2, 2022.

Production

In 2015, Blue Sky Studios had ideas about a movie about toys in a place called Toytown. On December 25, 2018, Chris Wedge served to direct the film, and after Disney purchased 20th Century Fox in March 2019, Blue Sky decided to hire Walt Disney Pictures to co-produce the film as well as complete the final computer animation. In May 2019, John C. Donkin became the producer. Just after 20th Century Fox's purchase by Disney, William Reeves served as editor. On November 30, 2019, Laramore revealed to Blue Sky Studios that the film will be an story of adventure, romance, and harmony.

Writing

To design the cat that kills Murray, the animators had to design its fur, similar to how they design Scrat in the Ice Age films. Although primarily an animated film, it does have the human world as a live-action sequence. Also, there was an scrapped scene where two ladies get mad with him for Murray's death, and John says, "I'd like to see you dump a penny in this cup of water and see what happens." One lady just turns away and then the other kicks him in the groin. This was cancelled because it was not suitable for children and could have gotten the film a PG-13 rating. Other innuendos with John were also cut from the film.

Release

The film was released on July 12, 2020.

Music

All tracks by John Powell.

Soundtrack

"Dancing to Myself" - Billy Idol

"Jump In The Line" - Owen Laramore and the Toytown Museum chorus

"Walking On Sunshine" - Katrina & The Waves

"Morning At The ToyTown Museum" - John Powell

"Cat" - John Powell

"Murray's Death" - John Powell

"The New Exhibit" - John Powell

"Take Off" - John Powell

"Cross The Street" - John Powell

"John Returns" - John Powell

"Exile" - John Powell

"Ken The Color Worm" - John Powell

"John The Murderer" - John Powell

"Sad John" - John Powell

"The Angry Mob" - John Powell

"Trash Shredder" - John Powell

"Furnace" - John Powell

"King John" - John Powell

Box-office

The film grossed $275 million in the United States and Canada, and $300 million in other territories, for a total of $575 million.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 91% approval rating based on 45 reviews. The consensus reads, "For feature effort, Toys To Life is by far one of the most popular films in Disney and Blue Sky's partnership". Metacritic signed the film to a score of 93 out of 100 based on 45 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".

Accolades

Awards
Award Category Recipients Result
Academy Awards Best Original Song "Dancing By Myself" (performed by Billy Idol) Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay James V. Hart, Jonathan Goldstein, Jenny Bicks, and Robert L. Baird Won
Best Animated Feature Toys To Life
Best Original Score John Powell
Golden Globe Awards Best Director Michael Thurmeier and Galen T. Chu Nominated
Best Actor Owen Laramore Won
Best Supporting Actress Jenny Slate Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jimmy Fallon
Best Animated Film Toys To Life
Annie Awards Voice Acting in a Feature Production Owen Laramore Won
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Animated Feature Toys To Life Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Animated Film Won
Best Actor Owen Laramore
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