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