Welcome to part 3 of Pixar-thon, my 13 part mission to review all of the Disney/Pixar movies. Today’s review is Toys Story 2, the second part of Pixar’s big trilogy that almost didn’t happen.
Just as Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of Andy’s toys have adjusted to life in their new home, they face a new challenge. With Andy going away to summer camp, the toys are now free to spend plenty of time to do as they please. But the fun ends when Woody is stolen while trying to rescue a toy from a garage sale. Now Buzz is leading a rescue team to find Woody and bring him back home before Andy’s return. Meanwhile, Woody discovers that his kidnapper is an avid toy collector, and that he is the crown jewel of a disconnected franchise, along with other cowboy dolls like Jessie the yodeling cowgirl, Bullseye the horse, and Stinky Pete the prospector. When he finds out that he and the rest of the collection are going to be sold to a toy museum inJapan, Woody finds the temptation of immortality to be very tantalizing, and wonders if he even wants to go back at all.
As I already mentioned in the intro, this movie almost never existed. Talk about making a sequel to Toy Story began as soon as the first one dominated the box office. This was also right around the time when Disney was making a ton of straight to video sequels to their movies, and since Toy Story was technically Disney property, they wanted to add it to the line up. But when John Lasseter heard this, he was like “Screw that noise, if you want a sequel so bad we’ll just do one ourselves.” Initially, there were a lot of production problems and a lot of Pixar’s staff who had worked on the original was busy with their on projects. But through the magic of perseverance and a stroke of luck, the movie got a theatrical release and managed to actually have a point beyond cashing in on the first film’s success.
The first Toy Story really touched on an experience that every kid can identify with, that being a certain connection that a child has for his or her favorite play thing. Whether it be a G.I. Joe or a Raggedy Annie, a Stretch Armstrong or a Barbie doll, we all had that one toy that we loved unconditionally and took with us everywhere (sometimes I wish I still had all my Bionicles and Beast Wars). This is very important to keep in mind when watching any of the Toy Story movies, because they’re all told from the perspective of that toy which every boy and girl held near and dear to their hearts. If you don’t remember that feeling, then you might as well turn back now.
That said, the things they do with this concept are extremely clever. Sure, the things they did in the first Toy Story were really ingenious too, but there was a ton of emotion put into this. A good example of this is everything surrounding the new character, Jessie. While Woody remains loyal to Andy, Jessie remains a bit jaded. She experienced the love and affection that Woody has, but unlike Woody whose owner is still young, she watched her owner grow up, forget her, and ultimately abandon her. This is why she sees being sent to the toy museum as a chance to be adored forever, to relive that time in her life with her old owner. Hearing her story even tempts Woody, who is loyal to a fault and has faced the inevitable for a while, to join them. The montage of Jessie being played with by her old owner is probably one of the strongest scenes Pixar has ever done. (Even though I’m not crazy about the song they used, but then again I’m not a big fan of Sarah McLachlan.) Watching it now I realize it was a big foreshadowing of Toy Story 3. It’s the simplicity of it that really makes it so great.
So what it all comes down to is that Toy Story 2 is a great sequel to a movie that didn’t really warrant a sequel in the first place. But unlike other sequels that are obviously made to cash in on its predecessor, this one actually expands the Toy Story universe and expands on its themes. If you liked the first Toy Story, then you have to see this one. And if you liked this one, then you have to see Toy Story 3. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
I give Toy Story 2 8/10
Three down, ten to go.