Monday, May 17, 2010

"Ride Like the Wind Bullseye!"

Film: "Toy Story 2"

Release Date: 24 November 1999

Director: John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Ash Brannon

History: The 1999 winner of the Golden Globe for "Best Picture, Musical or Comedy was Pixar Animation's first (and up untill this next summer's "Toy Story 3" and the soon to follow "Cars 2" and "Monster's Inc. 2" only) sequel was almost another one of Disney's direct-to-video films. But after Disney executives saw how impressive the film was shaping up to be and at the urging of Pixar that it be a theatrical film, it ended up just that.

But it also was the first major rift between Pixar and Disney. Pixar had originally had a 3 picture deal with Disney and after the success with "Toy Story" and "A Bug's Life," is became a 5 picture deal. But then Disney CEO Michale Eisner felt that "Toy Story 2" didn't count for that arrangement, while Pixar and Pixar CEO Steve Jobs did. This almost lead ultimately to the separation of the two companies, but more on that later with the post for "Cars."

"Toy Story 2" furthered the Pixar success winning over more critical acclaim and far surpassing the original film at the box office with over $245 million domestically, become at the time the second biggest money making animated film, only under "The Lion King." Both films were later passed by "Shrek 2" and "Finding Nemo," but still it was another mega success for Pixar.

While the music was once again written and scored by the very talented Randy Newman, unlike the first film, he doesn't sing a single song. Instead The Riders in the Sky, Sarah McLachlan and the late Robert Goulet do the singing.
As well, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen once again voice the main characters as well as the majority of the original voice cast. Joining them for this film is the inclusion of Jodi Benson (of "The Little Mermaid" fame), Joan Cusack (as the new main character of Jessie the Cowgirl), Kelsey Grammer, Estelle Harris and Wayne Knight.

My Reaction:
I have heard the old saying in Hollywood about sequels is that they are never as good as the original. That could not possibly be more untrue when it comes to this film. It possibly is my favorite sequel ever! The story was better in my opinion, the characters were spot on and the animation was clearly better then either "Toy Story" or "A Bug's Life." Both of those films, while amazing, do show their age. This one does a better job of hiding it.

I loved seeing Woody and Buzz again and the addition of Jessie and Bullseye were just perfect. I'm really excited to see these characters one more time in "Toy Story 3" later, as well as the answer to the main questions this film raised. What will happen to our heroes when Andy grows up? In this film, Woody had the chance for toy immortality as it turns out he is a very rare and desired toy amongst collectors. But loyalty for both Andy and Buzz and the rest of the toys won out in the end. It will be most interesting to see the out come of Woody's choice this summer.

Further I loved the humor and the "out takes" that both this film and "A Bug's Life" before it had at the end of the film. It was sad that Pixar stopped do that, but they do have similar things for some of their other films later. "Toy Story 2" did a great job of deepening the "Toy Story" universe and finding out even more about both Woody and Buzz. It showed that Pixar is just as amazing at sequels as there are original stories. With their up coming slate of sequels, we'll see if they still have that magic or not.

My Wife's Reaction: Again, she had not seen this since it was in theaters, so it was like she was watching it for the first time again in a way. She laughed at most of the jokes and seemed to enjoy it.

My Final Grade: (A+) This is one of my favorite Pixar films to date. It did a great job of deepening the universe that is "Toy Story" and was just a well told story. We get to see more of the supporting characters then last time, while still getting to know all of the new characters, while still getting to Buzz and Woody better.

All images copyright Disney/ Pixar. All rights reserved.

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