Toy Story 2 (1999)

Directed by John Lasseter
Written by Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Doug Chamberlain & Chris Webb
Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter & Ash Brannon

Will Most Likely Contain Spoilers

I have always asked myself why I had never seen Toy Story 2. I never could come up with a very good answer. I loved Toy Story and pretty much everything else Pixar. And now with Toy Story 3 coming out a week before my birthday this year I knew I really had to get my butt in gear and see it. Luckily it came up for this marathon and gave me an easy excuse to finally get around to it. The characters are all so endearing. I had not seen Toy Story for a long time and had forgotten how great they all are. Now they are all veterans of Andy’s room and ready for whatever is thrown their way. The whole gang is back, and they even manage to add a few friends along the way.

What we have here is a caper ladies and gentlemen, pure and simple. The fact that it is a caper with toys that can walk and talk just makes it that much greater. We have Wheezy you see. Wheezy is a squeaky penguin toy, but he has lost his squeak and has been shelved. When Woody nearly loses his arm, he too is shelved, but not for long. When Andy’s mom decides to have a yard sale, Wheezy is casually thrown into a bin marked 25 cents. This will not do for the toys. Woody daringly goes on a rescue mission to save Wheezy. He succeeds, but in the process gets himself stolen by a sleazy, greedy, toy collector who owns a poultry themed toy store downtown (he wears a chicken suit in the commercials). Buzz and the gang must then run their own rescue mission to save their buddy Woody. But once captured, Woody meets newcomers Jessie, Bulls-eye and Stinky Pete, who are all part of his “Round Up” making him a valuable collectors item for sleazeball. Woody ends up dealing with the idea of mortality oddly enough. How long will he last with Andy? He will be immortalized and protected if he goes to the buyer in Japan. Woody seriously considers it, and if quite persuaded by the mint condition, never out of the box Stinky Pete. Jessie just does not want to experience heart break again like when Emily, her owner, simply donated her away.

In the end the gang ends up together with a few new friends. But really, this was quite the action, buddy comedy in full toy world. One must save the other as happened in the first. There is great comedy to go all around, and great action too. There is even an iconic shot near the end with Buzz, Woody, Jessie, and Bulls-Eye that is the perfect shot for such a film. What makes it great is the pacing. There is never a dull moment, something is always happening, just like the perfect action thriller. And on top of that you have first rate gags which work on another level because of the fact that we are dealing with toys here. You have the alternate Buzz Lightyear, the arch nemesis Zurg, who appears in a video game and in real life. The barbie dolls are awesome. The musical number to the Beach Boys, the tour guide and the one at the end are all fantastically hilarious.

There is plenty for the adult to chew on too if they look. I noticed at the beginning they used a lot of different sounds from Star Wars in the opening video game segment. The humor can be geared to adults as well, while still not losing the youngsters. But at the core of this film you have a great message. Much like My Neighbor Totoro, family plays a huge role. Maybe not in the same manner, but the toys are a family, and Andy is family. They stick together, risk life and limb, literally, for each other, and they do it all to get back to Andy because they love him, because he loves them. As I said before, we even have Woody contemplating his own mortality. Leave it to Pixar to put in such a deep plot point in an animated kids film.

I may have liked this better than the first one just based on pure adrenaline and characterization. The toys are so funny and so genuine. Again, this takes place in that perfect world of animation and toys where nothing bad happens as everything will be resolved as it should be, but I like those kinds of films because, though I may be a dreamer, I’m not the only one that thinks that some of what is presented in this film is not existent in the world today and in need of more people loving each other, having each others back, and trying to build that perfect world, even if it never comes. I think the next film in the marathon may build on this thought a little bit. In summary: awesome sauce.

**** – Masterpiece

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