Way back in the mid-90’s there was this animated blockbuster by this little known company called Pixar. This company accumulated vocal talent with enough star-power that usually is used to cover up a weak script.
(NOTE: I call this the “Star to Script Ratio”. Basically the greater number of famous actors in an animated film, the worse the movie/script is. This is often true of live action movies but not always.)
But this movie…Toy Story…bucked that trend by hiring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim “Hey Vern It’s Ernest” Varney, John “Cliff Claven” Ratzenberger and Wallace “Princess Bride” Shawn to voice all the main characters. Not only did Pixar have a bonifide hit, this movie put them on the map from then until present day always producing amazing movies (Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, WALL-E and Cars…to name a few…).
They followed up Toy Story three years later with Toy Story 2…and the subject of this ranking.
Bringing back all the main cast and adding to it Kelsey Grammar, Joan Cusack and Wayne “Newman!” Knight, Pixar not only met the expectations of the first movie but exceeded it. Instead of simply focusing on how toys live in a kid’s world (like in the first movie), Toy Story 2 introduces the notion that hits home in the recent Toy Story 3 flick about what happens when the kid grows up.
- Not originally intendeded for theaters. This was supposed to be a straight to video 60-minute sequel but Disney has so impressed with Pixar’s work, they asked for a full 90-minute film.
- Pixar refused to release a movie based on the story they had unless the movie could be completely redone. Disney wanted to do it “as is” as they were under contract and didn’t believe there was enough time before the release date to retool the picture.
- In efforts to save the project with a shoddy script intended for only video, Pixar rewrote the entire script over a weekend and completed the entire movie in nine-months…which is insanely fast for any animation studio even by today’s standards. End result is what we have today.
- Second highest grossing animated movie of all time (as of 1999) behind The Lion King.
- Highest rated film on Rottentomatoes.com. (In fact, all three movies of the trilogy are the highest rated animated movies on the list.)
- This movie marked the last role played by Jim Varney (as Slinky) before he passed away in 2000
Now that we’re all brought up to speed, let me start with this. The movie IS enjoyable and just as cute as I remember. I also remember laughing a lot more. Does this mean that the humour is any less silly? Or has my taste changed in the 15 years since I last partook in a Toy Story jaunt?
I don’t think so. I saw Toy Story 3 this past year and laughed, cried and reminisced as much as I remembered doing at the first two movies. What’s changed is that I knew what to expect and the jokes don’t have the same oomph as when seen/heard the first time.
So minus this small “best-before” exception, Toy Story 2 still holds up as a very clever and well-thought out narrative with enough character to make you care about what’s happening. (Afterall, you can’t spell character without C-A-R-E.)
Re-watching Woody, Buzz and Company’s second adventuring so close after watching the third makes me appreciate what Pixar has done. They’ve made iconic characters that will resonate far beyond the Incredibles, the WALL-Es or the Lion Kings. Will we ever forget 80 years down the road who Buzz Lightyear was? Or Woody? Or Mr. Potatohead?
I think it speak volumes on these characters that they still resonate on some level to people 15 years older and children nowadays who weren’t born when the first ones came out.
Maybe in another 10 years there’ll be a fourth…or maybe not.
And somewhere throughout this weaving post, I’ve commented on the entire trilogy as if it were one movie. Perhaps it’s because they are so entwined to each other that it would be almost too painful to separate. So allow me to step back a moment…
…Toy Story 2 can and does stand on it’s own. You don’t even need to watch the original to get to know everyone. This sequel also does something sequels rarely do: surpass the appeal of the original (as did the third one surpassed both of them…stop it! That’s a different movie…geesh…).
So go and revisit with some old friends from Toy Story 2. If you haven’t seen it before, you may find it just as good as the newest one. If you have seen it before, you’ll still enjoy the romp…and go “OOOOOOOOOOOOO”.
7.6 Barbies out of 10