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Toy Story 2

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Toy Story 2

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen
Director: John Lasseter
Rated: G
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: November 1999
Genres: Animation, Kids

*Also starring: Don Rickles, Joan Cusack, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, Jodi Benson, Kelsey Grammer

Review by Greg King
3½ stars out of 4

The Phantom Menace may have been the most eagerly anticipated, and most over-hyped, sequel of the year, but Toy Story 2 is undoubtedly the best! This wonderfully entertaining animated tale from the Disney and Pixar studios is a rarity amongst sequels in that it is every bit as good as the original. Director John Lasseter (Toy Story, A Bug's Life, etc) knows how to entertain audiences, and Toy Story 2 is fast, funny, endlessly inventive, and won't disappoint.

Toy Story 2 again explores themes of friendship, innocence, and also further develops the premise that the primary role of toys is to bring happiness to children, even though their owners will eventually outgrow them and move on to other interests. Since the original movie four years ago, the technology has evolved even further, and the state of the art computer generated animation here is superb. This is especially evident with its almost lifelike depiction of some of the human characters. Whereas the original Toy Story mainly explored what went on in children's bedrooms when no-one was around, this clever sequel takes the characters in new directions, while still maintaining its freshness and originality. Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the familiar toys return, as do the talented voice cast. Not having to waste time introducing audiences to these familiar characters, Toy Story 2 leaps straight into the action.

While his young master Andy is away at camp, Woody (Tom Hanks, reprising his role) accidentally ends up in a garage sale. He is kidnapped by Al (voiced by Wayne Knight), a greedy toy retailer, who recognises the intrinsic value of a Woody doll in good condition. Al has all the other collectible toy figures dating from the '50's, when Woody was the star of a popular kids' show on television. They are now rare collectors' items, and Al stands to make big money for selling a complete set to a Japanese toy museum.

In Al's office Woody meets his former co-stars, including the tomboyish cowgirl Jessie (voiced by Joan Cusack), his horse Bullseye, and the prickly prospector (voiced by Frasier's Kelsey Grammer), who are looking forward to becoming part of a permanent collection after years of neglect in storage. Woody faces a dilemma when he is torn between loyalty to his old friends and his master Andy and the concerns of his two new friends.

Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen again) leads some of his fellow toys on a daring mission into the dangerous outside world in an attempt to rescue Woody before Andy returns from camp. In a toy store he encounters a new and improved, but hopelessly naive, version of himself, which brings another dimension to the action.

The writing is again very clever, and takes a number of well aimed shots at the crass commercialism and cynical exploitation practised by the toy manufacturers. The script is peppered with plenty of clever in-jokes. While younger children will enjoy the antics of the toys and the sense of adventure, the broad humour and universal themes will appeal to audiences of all ages. Unlike many sequels, Toy Story 2 actually leaves audiences wanting more!

Copyright 2000 Greg King

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