The toys are back in town.
Toy Story 2 is a 1999 animated adventure film directed by John Lasseter, written by Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Doug Chamberlin, and Chris Webb, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios, and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. It stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. The film was nominated for Best Original Song, but did not win. This is the second film in the Toy Story franchise. It was preceded by Toy Story and followed by Toy Story 3.
"I have to get back to my owner, Andy!" -Sheriff Woody
When Woody is stolen by an eccentric toy shop owner, he meets up with new toys; Jessie, a cowgirl, Stinky Pete the Prospector, and Bullseye, a horse. Woody learns that these toys are a part of his "Roundup Gang", a show from the 50s that cast Woody as a celebrity. As Buzz and some of the other toys venture out toys save Woody from his captor, Woody becomes unsure whether he wants to leave.
The best thing about this film is the characters. Obviously, you have Woody and Buzz as our leading protagonists, two of the most iconic characters in movie history. However, they feel more developed in this film. We get a Woody that isn't obsessed with being Andy's favorite. We get a Buzz that steps into the leader role. Jessie and Bullseye are great additions to the toy chest. Woody's character arc in this movie is such a roller coaster, but it works great. We get to see these characters in near opposite situations than they were in the first film.
The animation looks splendid. It is so crisp and stunning to look at, providing a visual treat for the viewers' eyes. The movements that the toys make look a little bit less like a PlayStation cut scene and more like a Pixar animated feature. I think that some of the humans, mainly Al and Geri, look a thousand times better than they did in the first film. The scene where Jessie and the Prospector show Woody all of the memorabilia that his show collected is one of the best animated scenes in all of Pixar. There are so many fun things to look at, and I absolutely love it.
The story, in my opinion, is the best of the Toy Story movies. It puts Woody in a position that takes him out of the leadership role that he is usually fulfilling, and I thought that that was a very interesting idea from the filmmakers. Buzz filling in Woody's shoes is so much fun to watch, as he is just as good a leader as Woody is, but still isn't an expert in that field. We get a glimpse of the O.G. Buzz from the Utility Belt Buzz that we see after the gang raids Al's Toy Barn. I love Woody's constantly conflicting feelings that keep the audience guessing as to what's going to happen next.
This is probably one of the best sequels of all time. It's also one of the first ever theatrically released animated sequels, meaning that Pixar was taking an enormous risk by releasing it in theaters. Obviously, it turned out successful, because Toy Story is a near-perfect movie series and possibly the best quadrilogy of all time. But this calculated risk pays off by giving the audience an entirely new adventure that ups the fun scale. It also brings some fantastic and memorable new characters that just make it one of Pixar's best.
The voice acting is just as good as everything else in this movie. Tom Hanks contributes to Woody's other side that we see, as he has to put on a completely different emotional face for this film. He makes Woody more lively and more human than before, giving him depth and showing that he doesn't just care about Andy. Tim Allen takes Buzz to a different layer, commanding the toys with such authority that it is almost believable that these toys are real. Joan Cusack's loud and exciting personality pop on screen through Jessie. She is perfectly cast. When I heard the Prospector first talk, I thought that the entire movie, I'd just be hearing Sideshow Bob and that it'd be super distracting. However, Kelsey Grammer delivers a heartfelt and serious performance as this sad toy that eventually turns out to be a villain. It is so great to see this fully on display throughout the entire movie.
Lastly, this movie can actually be ridiculously funny at times. Rex can be absolutely hysterical when he is being an idiot, and it is elevated by Wallace Shawn's hilariously high voice that fits Rex's personality. There are also other characters, like Utility Belt Buzz, who are very funny, too.
On the flip side, there are some tear-jerking moments, too. Jessie's backstory is the first very emotional scene that Pixar gave us, and it is heart-wrenching. They do a great job of blending no dialogue and sad music that show a fantastic story that resonates with the audience (which, now that I think about it, is a preview to Up). There is also some emotion as you see the Prospector betray Woody and Jessie, forcing Woody to abandon his friends and Andy for the museum in Japan. Pixar plays the emotion card in this film, and it works really well.
I loved most of this movie, but I really did not get the overuse of Star Wars references. I love Star Wars as much as anybody, but I thought that using Zurg as Toy Story's Darth Vader was just stupid. It was so weird to have a real storyline, with the real Buzz and Rex and Potato Head and Slinky going after Woody, but, on top of that, having Utility Belt Buzz and Zurg be fighting Star Wars style and then tell this fake Buzz that he is Buzz's father. They weave it throughout the film, and I was really not a fan. It was distracting, unnecessary, and, above all, not funny in the slightest.
But, honestly, that's all the problems that I have with Toy Story 2.
Toy Story 2 proves a very worthy successor to the original movie, and even manages to build on top of some of the emotion and the character development. The first fantastic sequel from Pixar paves the way for the next twenty years.
I will give it a Sweet rating. Age range is 4+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good)
Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"Toy Story 2"
Fun Factor: 10/10
Directed by John Lasseter
Rated G for some disturbing themes and behavior
Released on November 24, 1999
1 hour and 32 minutes
Tom Hanks as Sheriff Woody
Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear
Joan Cusack as Jessie
Kelsey Grammer as Stinky Pete the Prospector
Wayne Knight as Al McWhiggin
Jim Varney as Slinky Dog
Wallace Shawn as Rex
Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head
John Ratzenberger as Hamm
Annie Potts as Bo Peep
John Morris as Andy Davis
Estelle Harris as Mrs. Potato Head