Picks and Pans Review: Toy Story 2
Age is no barrier to enjoying Toy Story 2, the totally irresistible sequel to the 1995 computer-animated blockbuster. Just as The Godfather Part II played off and surpassed in emotional breadth the original, so TS2 pays homage to the first movie while improving upon it. Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang are all back, but this time out they find themselves involved in an even bigger adventure (including navigating a high-rise building's ventilation system), spout wittier repartee and look spiffier thanks to ever improving computer-animation technology.
TS2's plot comes straight from baby boomer heaven. It turns out that Woody was once the "rootenest, tootenest cowboy in the whole Wild West," back when he starred on Woody's Roundup, a '50s TV show. This elevates Woody from mere doll to valuable collectible. A scheming adult toy collector steals Woody, intending to sell him to a Japanese toy museum as part of a set with Jessie the cowgirl, Stinky Pete the Prospector and Bullseye the horse, the trio who formed Woody's posse on TV. So spaceman Buzz Lightyear and the other toys from Andy's bedroom must rescue their cowpoke pal. The rescue calls for derring-do, as well as snappy take-offs on familiar films (including Star Wars and a poke at Pokémon). TS2 even finds time for displays of genuine emotion, as when Jessie recalls the heartbreak of being left behind when her owner grew up. Makes you wonder whatever happened to the Jessie in your own toy bin.
As in the first Story, Tom Hanks proves invaluable as the voice of Woody, giving nuanced line readings that make the character zing. Tim Allen returns as Buzz, a kinder, gentler guy this time out, and Joan Cusack proves a welcome addition as Jessie, who takes guff from no one. (G)
Bottom Line: To infinity, and way beyond