Flashback Review: Toy Story 2

In 1995, Disney & Pixar’s “Toy Story” earned universal acclaim from many film critics including Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert & families from across the globe becoming the highest grossing film of the year. Toy Story became the first computer animated film for its groundbreaking technology influencing other animation studios such as DreamWorks Animation, Blue Sky Studios & Sony Pictures Animation to create their own unique stories. “Toy Story 2” was in the works a month after the first film’s release.

Toy Story 2 took four years to make due to hectic production with John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter & Lee Unkrich struggling to brainstorm creative ideas for a potential narrative. John was inspired to make a sequel as he saw a little boy holding a Woody doll as he shows is father how much he deeply cares for Woody. This heartwarming scene encouraged John to make a second installment for many kids now viewing Woody & Buzz Lightyear as instant icons. With the success of direct-to-video sequels (no longer relevant) produced by Disney, the company changed their minds to produce and distribute the sequel worldwide. Tom Hanks & Tim Allen signed on to reprise their roles as Woody & Buzz Lightyear.

Pixar had a busy schedule as they were working on “A Bug’s Life” & “Toy Story 2” back to back. Animators were having a difficult time using Computer Animation from the first film to expand new environments for the characters to explore, lighting, character models (especially humans) & issues regarding numerous rewrites. This was basically Pixar’s equivalent of “Apocalypse Now.” That film also had many delays due to numerous production issues. An employee from Pixar suffered from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome due to working overtime & some animators also had strain injuries. Reality Ensues for Pixar now fulfilling responsibilities and consequences like every other film studio. After conquering development issues, Pixar can finally hire The Cast to record dialogue.

Marketing for the film displayed merchandise like action figures, t-shirts, collectibles, a video game for Nintendo 64 & PlayStation (original) etc. A teaser trailer didn’t give away plot details were announced in 1998. The teaser showed Little Green Men witnessing a giant claw revealing the title. Woody & Buzz addressed many families that they’re coming back on Thanksgiving 1999.

Toy Story 2 was released in 1999. (same year The Matrix came out) Like the first film, the sequel earned universal acclaim from critics (most notably Roger Ebert) and families from around the globe. In addition to critical acclaim, the sequel earned a lot of money at the box office.

Toy Story 3 was eventually released in 2010. Toy Story 4 will be out this Friday. Before I see Pixar’s latest chapter of the Toy Story series, I want to share my real thoughts about one of my favorite movies of all time.

Today’s review doesn’t contain any big fat SPOILERS whatsoever. If you have never ever ever seen all Toy Story movies up to date, feel free to read my non-spoiler article.

Positive & Negative Aspects

Positive: The Main Cast from the first film including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, Jim Varney & Pixar’s good luck charm John Ratzenberger all did an excellent job for their respective voiceover performances.

Then Newcomers to the series such as Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Jodi Benson (Ariel from The Little Mermaid) & Wayne Knight all did a fantastic job for their respective voiceover performances.

Computer Animation still holds up for a film released in 1999. I’ll have to give the animators Bonus Points for all the hard work they had to endure. Somebody give each employee a Christmas Bonus!

John Lasseter (before he was revealed as a groper) did a great job directing the sequel. He also co-wrote the story.

Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter co-wrote the script.

Former Pixar filmmaker Lee Unkrich did a good job editing the film.

As the film progresses, Woody earns Character Development as he learns to choose his destiny based on the importance of friendship.

Humor has a bunch of funny moments filled with memorable dialogue, visual gags & pop culture references.

Randy Newman orchestrated music for the second film. He also wrote two songs titled, “Woody’s Roundup” & “When She Loved Me.” If you have a soft side, the latter song will make you cry. I suggest a couple of tissues, because Tom Hanks & Tim Allen both shed tears when they attended an exclusive screening together. If you’ve seen Toy Story 2, you probably know why the song was added for that one scene. I’m shocked that Phil Collins one an Oscar for “Tarzan” over Randy Newman’s sobfest song.

Opening Scene starts strong, indicating that this sequel is bigger and better than ever.

The Primary Theme for the sequel is choice. It revolves around Woody”s moral dilemma.

Jeese’s backstory is presented in flashbacks. I can’t tell you. Trust me, you’re gonna cry uncontrollably.

Besides Al, another villain plays a key role. I can’t tell you the identity. You’re gonna have to see for yourselves.

My favorite line from the second film is “Well if the boot fits!”

Buzz shouted his legendary catchphrase “To Infinity And Beyond!”

“Up To Eleven” is displayed on Zurg’s gun. A shout-out to “This Is Spinal Tap.”

Slinky paraphrases a quote from “Forrest Gump.” Tom Hanks starred as the title character which ultimately won him a second Oscar.

Stinky Pete talks to Woody about Andy’s future. Foreshadowing the plot of “Toy Story 3.” Must’ve been an afterthought for Pixar to construct a back-up plan for a story after a story involving Buzz Lightyear recalled with a bunch of Lightyears was scrapped.

A familiar music piece from “2001: A Space Odyssey” (one of Christopher Nolan’s favorite movies) is a referenced. Perhaps Pixar honored Stanley Kubrick after his untimely death. Coincidentally, Kubrick’s last film “Eyes Wide Shut” came out the same year as Toy Story 2.

Speaking of Kubrick, “Spartacus” is parodied with Buzz yelling “I’m Buzz Lightyear!” A shout-out to “I’m Spartacus!”

Mr. Potato throws his hat like Oddjob from “James Bond.” Speaking of Bond, “The World Is Not Enough” came out the exact same month as Toy Story 2.

A quote from “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” is parodied. “The Phantom Menace” came out six months before Toy Story 2. Disney later bought the rights to Lucasfilm for $4 billion.

The repairman is actually the old man from Pixar’s short film “Geri’s Game.” The short’s about the title character who competes with himself in a game of chess. The short film was a challenge for animators to test out a human character who doesn’t look like a plastic toy. They had to upgrade computer animation by inventing innovative technology.

Outtakes are shown during The End Credits. All of them made me laugh my rump off.

Negative: To be honest with you guys & gals, I couldn’t find nothing wrong with this film. I’m giving The Cast & Crew an Extra Point for making a flawless picture as much as they can.

The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!

In my opinion, Toy Story 2 is a superior sequel better than its predecessor. Every single detail is bigger & better than ever on why this sequel managed to pull some emotion punches to many families & critics who appreciate Disney & Pixar’s vigorous effort to make a decent follow up to an instant classic. If you’re very excited to see Toy Story 4, I strongly recommend the first three Toy Story films if you want to refresh your memory.

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