Toy Story 2 (1999)

TOY STORY 2 is the expected treat.  Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, back 
as Woody and Buzz Lightyear, the top toys in a roomful of play-
things-that-play-with-themselves.  Other returning voices-and-char-
acters include John Ratzenberg's Hamm, Wallace Shawn's dino, Don 
Rickle's now-married Mr. Potato Head, and Jim Varney's Slinky Dog.  
The plot:  the aforementioned four join Buzz Boy on a rescue mis-
sion after Woody is doll-napped by a greedy toy collector (fitting-
ly voiced by Wayne Knight).  The plot thickener:  Woody learns that 
he's a vintage doll from the fifties after meeting three other toys 
from that era:  Joan Cusack's cowgirl, Kelsey Grammer's prospector 
(mint-in-box), and a silent-but-spry pony name of Bullseye.  And 
so, while the wee rescuers risk life and molded plastic limb, the 
pull-string cowboy has his *own* battle to fight:  stay and be a 
"star" forever, or return to the kid that'll love him until he out-
grows him?  What to do, what to do?

Perhaps aware that the Pixar Freshness Factor (PFF) is starting to 
wear off-- especially after A BUG'S LIFE-- co-director (or is he a 
supervising director?) John Lassiter wisely ups the ante with a 
hefty amount of emotional heft.  The manic antics are still there, 
sure, as are in the in-jokes (great JURASSIC PARK gag), the set 
pieces, and the series' trademark toy's-eye view.  (Who knew that 
the front landing-gear assembly of a jumbo jet was so exciting?)  
What's been *added* is more talking, more feeling, and one, gag-me-
with-a-Ken-doll Disney moment when Cusack's character reminiscences 
while some stupid pop song is played in its entirety.  Yuck.  (Rob-
ert Goulet's big-band rendition of "You've Got a Friend in Me" at 
the end, however, is totally acceptable.  Says me.)

Also upped are the number of computer-rendered humans.  With one 
exception, tho-- a "cleaner" called by the collector-- they don't 
look so hot.  (Better than the *first* film, mind you, but still 
rather distracting.)  The net result is a highly, *highly* enter-
taining holiday movie that also feels a bit longish.  And at times, 
as unfocused as it is overstuffed.  (The film was conceived as a 
direct-to-video release and, well, kinda, almost, sometimes feels 
like it.)  Not that the kiddies nor their parents are necessarily 
gonna mind...  Oh, and also beware the Disney Trailer Reel From 
Hell.  As Walt's company conveniently doesn't permit ads for other  
studios, you may have to endure ten-or-more-minutes of clips from 
102 DALMATIANS (coming *next* Thanksgiving!), DINOSAUR (May 2000), 
and BICENTENNIAL MAN (December).  With the voices of Annie Potts as 
Bo Peep, Jodi Benson as Tour Guide Barbie, and Estelle Harris as 
Mrs. Potato Head.  Don't talk to any toy you don't know!  (Rated 
"G"/90 min.)

Grade: B+


The newly added TOY STORY 2 outtakes are a stitch.  Though they feel
a bit forced-- and, admittedly, are nowhere near as novel as either
set of BUG'S LIFE bloopers-- I'd say a couple of 'em qualify as 
classics.  Such as Stinky Pete caught coming on to a pair of Barbie
dolls.  ("You're absolutely identical?")  And there's an awfully good
running gag with Mrs. Potato Head packing more than just her stud
spud's "angry eyes." Go have a good laugh.

Grade: B

Copyright 1999 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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