Anthony's Film Review
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Just when you think the first Toy Story is perfect, a sequel comes with even bigger surprises...
Toy Story 2 is a great example of what a cinematic sequel should do: take the same characters, put them in an entirely new story, and make it as good or better than its predecessor. You would think that, after a great movie like 1995's Toy Story, the last feat would be difficult. How can you top an already excellent movie? Apparently, it can be done. I'm reminded of Buzz Lightyear's quote from the first movie: "To infinity and beyond." If the first Toy Story reached infinity, then Toy Story 2 went beyond it.
The familiar characters from Toy Story are back, including Woody the cowboy (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear the spaceman (Tim Allen), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), Rex the dinosaur, Hamm the piggy bank, and others. Of course, you usually want a new character or two in any sequel. For that, you have Jessie the cowgirl (Joan Cusack) with her horse Bullseye. As for the story, a toy collector named Al (Wayne Knight) finds Woody and, seeing much value in this toy, takes him away. Woody is to be a collector's item alongside another toy named Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammer). Meanwhile, Buzz and the gang venture out to save Woody.
What makes Toy Story 2 great is its overall theme about mortality. Even toys have a lifespan. They can wear out over time, but more importantly, they may experience an inevitable sorrow when they are abandoned by the children who play with them. After all, childhood is not everlasting. Kids do become teenagers with new interests in life, and the toys are forgotten. I'm sure you remember the toys that you used to play with but now have moved on from.
Toy Story 2 is not just more solemn than the first. Amazingly, it is also funnier than the first one, which had some laughs. Here, there were many jokes that ranged from pretty funny to hilarious. In one scene, Buzz and the gang enter a toy store. When they meet Tour Guide Barbie, watch Buzz's reaction to his initial sight of her. There's also an obvious reference to a Star Wars movie when Buzz meets his arch nemesis. Trust me. This movie will really make you smile.
In my opinion, Toy Story 2 is one of Pixar's best animated films. It's funny, heartwarming, and just plain memorable. Pixar could have just left the first Toy Story as a stand-alone title in its library. I guess they just loved Woody and the other characters so much. I'm not complaining that a sequel was made. Given how great it turned out, I'm glad it was made. As long as you remember to tell a great story, then a sequel is fine by me.
For more information about Toy Story 2, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of Toy Story and Toy Story 3.