Toy Story 2 (1999)

A rapturous sequel that pushes Pixar into the millennium with confidence and style.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Dir. John Lasseter
1999 | USA | Animation/Adventure/Comedy | 92 mins | 1.33:1 | English
G (passed clean)

Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
Plot: When Woody is stolen by a toy collector, Buzz and his friends vow to rescue him, but Woody finds the idea of immortality in a museum tempting.
Awards: Won Best Picture – Comedy/Musical (Golden Globes); Nom. for Best Original Song (Oscars)
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Family
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Tight
Audience Type: Mainstream

Review #507

(Reviewed on DVD – first published 2 May 2010)

Spoilers: No

The sequel to the insanely popular Toy Story (1995) is a blast. John Lasseter and co-directors Ash Brannon and Lee Unkrich give viewers another 90 minutes of family entertainment of the highest order.

There are more reasons to cheer as Toy Story 2 packs more action and adventure, more toys, and more references to cinematic folklore than its prequel. And it does so without compromising on the human story of friendship and loyalty.

Woody and Buzz Lightyear return as best buddies and find themselves in more trouble than ever. Woody is stolen by a bumbling toy collector who intends to sell him to a client in Japan to make loads of money.

He is the final and most valuable piece of the Round’ Up gang, a rare collection of toys that were very popular with kids back when humans had yet to land on the moon. Buzz and the other toys set out to attempt a near impossible rescue before Andy, their owner, comes back from a camp.

The primary reason Toy Story 2 is a more enjoyable flick than its prequel (but not necessarily better) is that the ‘other toys’ get to directly experience the peril of the outside world.

And to absolutely hilarious effect, if I may add. Mr. Potato Head, Rex, Slinky Dog, and Hamm join Buzz as they find themselves racing against time and avoiding danger posed by humans and “evil toys” such as Stinky Pete and Zurg, Buzz’s nemesis.

“You never forget kids like Emily, or Andy, but they forget you.”

Toy Story 2 is not without its heart-tugging moments. In a sequence accompanied by the touching song “When She Loved Me”, Jessie, one of the film’s new characters, recollects memories of a distant past when she was the proud toy of a young girl who loved her, but grew up and discarded her.

Cinematic references to Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993), Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954), and not to forget Kershner’s The Empire Strikes Back (1980) are also nicely weaved into the screenplay.

Both ‘Toy Story’ films can be enjoyed on their own without the need to watch them together. This is a strong testament to the quality of filmmaking by Pixar. Technically, Toy Story 2 is much more sophisticated.

Even with the advancement of computer wizardry and technology (and it being a sequel), the film is still able to match its predecessor’s warmth and earnestness. Simply put, Pixar keeps raising the bar for animation with each new feature.

But the real test awaits. After more than a decade, Toy Story 3 (2010) is slated for release in a month’s time. Will it be a nostalgic return to our childhood? Or will we find out that we have outgrown Woody and Buzz? Pixar’s ultimate challenge then is to convince us, in ninety minutes, that we have been frozen in carbonite all these years, that we haven’t really aged at all.

Grade: A




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