Toy Story 2 (John Lasseter, 1999)


[Voices] Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Jim Varney (Slinky), Wallace Shawn (Rex). Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Doug Chamberlin and Chris Webb. Directed by John Lasseter, Ash Brannon and Lee Unkrich. Rating: U. Running time: 92 minutes.

I never liked this one as a kid, but having just rewatched it I have absolutely no idea why. Maybe I was just pissed off that the delightful setting of Andy’s bedroom has gone. Most of the first film, though admittedly involving a major adventure into the outside world, was nevertheless filmed in those comfortable surroundings, or at a minimum just next door in Syd’s house. Of course to repeat that formula, whilst enjoyable for the little ones, would be a commercial, cheap move for everybody else. With this in mind Pixar return with something distinct enough to justify a sequel. This time Andy’s barely in sight and all the toys are out in the wild. Woody has been stolen by a die-hard toy collector who spots him as a rare item of extreme value. Buzz and co go on a mission to save him.

Yes, we’ve got hanging on to cars again and near death situations, but we’ve also got a handful of new characters in the shape of Woody’s extended cowboy family, and a competitor Buzz Lightyear (picked up in a toy store, one of about a thousand stacked high on shelves) who’s causing problems and who is as blind to his status as a toy as Buzz was in the original. We’ve got mad dashes across highways hiding under cones, and extended hikes up elevator shafts to reach the top floor of an apartment complex to ‘save’ Woody from a life in a Japanese toy museum that he’s actually for some time tempted by. We’ve even got a chase down an airport conveyor belt, behind the curtains and into the world of luggage, leading to Woody and his new cowgirl friend Jesse nearly getting locked on a plane bound for the East. It’s a wild adventure that winds you up tight and doesn’t let go until the very end, with the animation as enjoyably crisp and visually rich in movement and colour as Pixar are now rightly hailed for. There’s nothing else that can be said. I’ve got to be loyal to the original and stick with the kids: I still prefer Andy’s bedroom. But that doesn’t stop this one being simply and equally magical.

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