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Toy Story 2
Buzz and Woody get warm and
fuzzy in Pixar's terrific sequel.

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By Janelle Brown

Nov. 24, 1999 | Think back to the toys of your youth: The worn out teddy-bears, the Barbie dolls with their hair torn out, the discarded hot wheels and erector sets and G.I. Joes and stuffed animals that eventually came unstuffed. Now think about them in the bottom of a trash heap, or mouldering forgotten in damp boxes in the basement -- your dolls, dying terrible, cruel deaths by incineration, just because you're more interested in nail polish and mortgages these days. Feeling guilty yet? Hmm?

"Toy Story 2" is all about the brevity of life, learning to accept the fact that you exist only as long as you are experiencing life to its fullest. It is, believe it or not, a rather philosophical movie, in which the topics of betrayal and death are pondered in toy terms. You might even call it grim, despite its brave confrontation of life's bitter truths. "We're all just a stitch away from here to there," one toy says mournfully, as a broken squeaky toy is banished to a yard sale.

It's been nearly four years since Pixar stunned the world with "Toy Story," the first completely computer-animated full-length feature film to hit the big screen. For those "Toy Story" fans who were concerned that the film would suffer from the usual Death by Sequel syndrome, I have good news: "Toy Story 2" is just as good as the original. In fact, it might even be better. Not only is it just as visually stunning and witty as the first, but it's funnier, more thoughtful and more grown-up. It may not be as surprising as the first time you saw "Toy Story," but it packs the same visceral punch.

The movie starts out where the first "Toy Story" left off: Buzz Lightyear and Woody the cowboy are now best friends. Buzz has come to terms with the fact that he is a toy rather than a superhero, and their beloved owner Andy is about to jet off to cowboy camp with Woody in tow. But when Andy accidentally tears Woody's arm during a particularly rough playtime, Woody is exiled to the top of the bookshelf. "He's been shelved," the toys whisper in fearful tones, and Woody seems doomed to a dusty, forgotten fate.

The fun really begins when, after a complicated series of events, Woody is kidnapped by a mercenary balding toy collector named Al McWhiggin. As it turns out, Woody is a collector's item, a valuable relic from a television show of the 1950s called "Woody's Roundup." Reunited with his "family" -- ditzy Jessie the cowgirl (Joan Cusack), Bullseye the horse and the grumpy old Pete the Prospector (who sees the world from behind plastic, as he's "mint, in the box! Never been opened!") -- Woody seems destined to be sold to a Japanese museum to live the rest of his life in a glass case.

Of course, the toys from Andy's house come to the rescue, braving city traffic, toy stores and dizzying elevator rides in hopes of returning Woody to his home. Want to take a guess if they succeed?

Next page | Who knew a Barbie doll could be so expressive?


 
Detail of image © Pixar Animation Studios


 

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