If Toy Story started a whole new art form and A Bug’s Life improved upon it, then Toy Story 2 is where you start to see that art form used to near perfection. The opening sequence wouldn’t be out of place in Star Wars, and the backgrounds have actual detail as opposed to blank space. It’s amazing the advancements that were made in the span of 4 years.
We follow Woody as he is stolen by a toy collector, and the rest of Andy’s toys embark on a mission to rescue him. Having spent the original film as a group, it’s nice to see how Woody and Buzz react when they’re separated. Woody, finding himself in a strange place with 3 toys he doesn’t know, is determined to get home to Andy, but as he gets to know these toys known as The Roundup Gang he must come to terms with Andy growing up. His lesson is the core of this film. People grow up and move on with their lives but that doesn’t mean that the time you spend with them until then is worthless. love who you can, while you can, because it might not last forever. This is such an important message for children, and a great reassurance to them as they grow older. Nowhere does it hit harder than during Jessie’s song When She Loved Me, which continues to pull at the heartstrings no matter how many times I watch it. Toy Story 2 also manages to convey that you should be careful with who you trust in the form of Stinky Pete- The Prospector. As far as I can tell, this is one of the first instances where a children’s animated villain masquerades as a friend. You can see why Disney would take this idea and eventually turn it into a trend.
Meanwhile, Buzz is clearly in his element being in charge of the toys’ rescue mission. Having his entire worldview shattered in Toy Story, he seems more than comfortable being a team leader here. It’s clear that he thrives on having something to do and cares about each of Andy’s toys. Thankfully, we aren’t lacking in deluded Buzz Lightyears because we gain another one in Al’s Toy Barn. He believes he is the real Buzz on his way to defeat the real Emperor Zurg and as it turns out, he isn’t totally wrong. Whilst escaping Al’s Toy Barn they accidentally unleash a Zurg action figure and face off with him in what might be one of the greatest homages to Darth Vader I’ve ever seen. There are many Star Wars references across the Toy Story catalogue, but none are more blatant or entertaining than this.
As with the original film, this sequel didn’t have the easiest of development periods. During a routine cleansing of computer files in 1998, the file upon which Toy Story 2 was founded was accidentally deleted. Luckily, technical director Gaylyn Susman had been working on a copy of the film from home while looking after her newborn child. These backup copies were retrieved and everything, bar the last several days of work, was restored. We’re lucky that Toy Story 2 was even released, and it really adds to my appreciation of it. I’ve often heard it said that a sequel is never as good as the original, but that’s simply not true. In my opinion, not only is this as good as its predecessor, it might actually be little bit better.
Until Next Time…