|"Toy Story 2" (1999).|
"Toy Story 2" (1999) was inevitable once the initial film "Toy Story" became a worldwide smash hit. Incredibly, the initial idea was to make this film direct-to-video. That didn't happen after wiser heads prevailed, but it just goes to show how what seems obvious in hindsight isn't always that way at the time. In any event, this is a worthy sequel to "Toy Story." As of this writing, it is the tenth-highest grossing animated film of all time..
The original "Toy Story" took place completely in the room of the owner of the toys, the boy named Andy, with some scenes at a neighbor's house. This time, though, things start out differently. Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) is shown battling the evil Emperor Zurg (Andrew Stanton) with guns blazing. What looks like a real change in the series' direction, though, is explained away quickly: it was all just a video game that Buzz was playing. Once it is done, it is back to Andy's room.
In the Toy Story world, it is yard sale day, but that turns out to be the least of the toys' concerns. A collector named Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight) steals Woody (Tom Hanks) . The other toys have to mount a rescue mission. The reason Al stole Woody, it turns out, is because he is a valuable collectible from an old TV western shown. Al intends to sell Woody and some other toys from the show to a toy museum in Tokyo, Japan. Woody, however, likes living in Andy's room and doesn't want to leave. The other toys, who need him to stick around if they are all to travel to Japan, try to convince him that Andy will just give him away someday anyway.
The film, directed by John Lasseter, Ash Brannon and Lee Unkrich, continues with complications that arise during the attempts of the toys to rescue Woody. Buzz is kidnapped by a newer version of his character, and the look-alike then takes his place with the other toys. After Buzz escapes, he helps the other toys to free Woody, who at first doesn't want to leave his new friends. At this point Al returns and packs up Woody with the other toys, leaving with them for the airport. Buzz and the other toys follow as best they can. A big rescue attempt is engineered at the airport, and everybody's future hangs in the balance as the plane starts down the runway.
Pixar cranked out another first-rate animation film here. The studio was under intense time pressure as it completed work on "A Bug's Life," but everything worked out in the end. Character models were upgraded, and many subtle processes were tweaked. Technology now permitted more advanced camera shots than in the original film. Simple things that you might not think much about - such as the animation of dust - were completed for the first time. Some great new characters (such as Wheezy, voiced by Robert Goulet) are introduced.
The supporting roles, such as Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) and Slinky Dog (voiced by Jim Varney) have much larger roles this time. If you are fans of theirs, this is a must-see film.
The culture of perfectionism at Pixar paid off in spades with this film. Despite it being a fairly troubled production, with Disney complaining that Pixar was taking too long, the end result was superb. This film is well worth your time.