|A toy box
full of fun
'Toy Story 2'
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Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla
It's not often that a sequel turns out to be better than the original, but Pixar's computer-animated "Toy Story 2" definitely fits into the exception category.
Woody (the voice of Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and all the gang are back with a few charming new additions. Woody is kidnapped by a dastardly toy collector ("Seinfeld's" Newman himself ... hellllllllllllloooooooooooooooooooo, Wayne Knight) to complete a group of "collectables" (remember when they were just plain ol' toys for playing with?) that he intends to sell to a Japanese toy museum. His pals, of course, take a little trip out into the world beyond Andy's room, once again, to rescue their friend.
Except that Woody isn't sure he wants to be rescued. See, he's discovered that he used to be a BIG star - his own kidvid show and a pretty impressive array of merchandising (remember when we used to call it toys?) - yo-yos, lunchboxes and, of course, the precursors to action figures, or what used to be called "dolls."
The other three figures in the set - Stinky Pete the prospector (voiced by Kelsey Grammer), the hyperactive bronco-bustin' cowgirl Jesse (Joan Cusack, one of my favorite actresses) and the faithful steed Bullseye - have been languishing in storage waiting for their set to be completed. They are initially chagrined that Woody wants to return to his owner. A particularly poignant song, "When She Loved Me," illustrates the lot of toys (and makes me wish I'd treated my own better) and leads into an examination of the nature of love, disguised as the relationship between kids and their toys.
It's thought-provoking scenes and songs such as this that elevate this film above the average kid movie.
Eventually, Woody chooses to go back to Andy ("I know he'll grow up," says Woody in a moment that really defines the movie, "and I want to be there for every minute of it") but to get there he must surmount the Evil Emperor Zurg (don't ask), another Buzz (again, don't ask) and a traitor amongst his friends (gasp!).
There are a lot of great gags that will be appreciated by kids of all ages. Kids will dig seeing their heroes in action again, and parents won't be bored with much of the action taking place at a level that reaches the young and old alike. Da Queen and I took our ten-year-old son with us and we enjoyed it at least as much as he did, if not more.
"Toy Story 2" requires a few leaps of faith in its own internal logic, and there are a few in-jokes that may sail over the heads of the terminally unhip, but beyond that it's nearly perfect entertainment for the entire family. Unlike the other big kidflick out right now, parents can actually enjoy this together with their kids, instead of having to go in knowing they'll be subjected to ultraviolence, dumbed down to the lowest common denominator and made with the express purpose of making money off of spoiled kids and their parents determined to demonstrate their love by how much they spend. Ain't that a poke in the eye.
Here is a win-win situation for families who want to head to the multiplex as a unit. Heck, you'll enjoy it even if you don't have kids.
Theater or Video?
Kids will want to see it NOW and quite frankly, so will you. Normally, I'd say it is just as watchable on the small screen, but while the ooh-aah factor is relatively low, it reminds me of the movies WE used to see as kids - so see it on the big screen.