There are few sequels that can equal or even surpass its original, and for an animated feature, perhaps Toy Story 2 is the first of its kind that didn't end up going direct to video. I'm unsure why I hadn't caught this in the theatres, given that I've thoroughly enjoyed the first Toy Story. I've taken 7 years to finally watch this gem, and of course, to include myself into the legions of Pixar fans out there who have watched every single animated feature they produced.
Toy Story 2 remains the only sequel that Pixar put out, though I'm rooting for The Incredibles to make another appearance on the silver screen. Bringing back its stellar voice cast like Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, and favourite characters that have endeared themselves to us, I'm thrilled that there is so much more story that can be told of our favourite toys in Andy's room.
What worked, at least for me, is that the story and characters appealed to the child inside. I own quite a number of toys as a kid, and yes, I outgrew them, although most of them are still stored in boxes somewhere around the house. Perhaps some of them are small collector's item in their own right, and as a child I did wonder if the toys do come alive to wreck havoc around the room before they retire in time and clean up before I wake up.
Of course toys do not come to life (or do they?) but here in this sequel, the exploration of the friendship theme takes on a different dimension when Woody finds himself with other toys from the same collection as he is - a cowgirl Jessie, his trusty steed Bullseye, and a prospecting character known as Stinky Pete. The dilemma he faces is whether to cast aside his constant fear of Andy abandoning him for good, and opt for life with his new found family in some museum somewhere, where he'll be appreciated for many moons to come, or to return with Buzz and his friends for the life he has grown so accustomed to.
The adaptation to change, loyalty, abandonment, friendship - a lot of themes for a children's movie, but that again is the appeal of Toy Story, that it can be viewed at different levels, for a child who can enjoy the animation and the story at one level, and for adults to reminisce and enjoy it on another. By deftly handling the different themes, and appealing to different segments of audiences with the same movie, Pixar exhibited exactly why they're top dogs in this field.
As always, the music and animation are excellent, and given that I'm watching this now and found it enjoyable, I think they have a film that can stand the test of time. I hear of rumours of a third Toy Story movie, and if that were true, I'd say bring it on!
Viewed this from the Code 1 DVD 2-Disc Special Edition by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, and the first disc contains the movie proper, a trailer to Cars, as well as a short introductory clip by director John Lasseter (about 1min 30s long). The feature film comes complete with an all new Dolby 5.1 Surround EX or the DTS 5.1 Surround Sound ES, so take your pick. No bonus features on the first disc.
The second disc is the bonus disc, containing a tremendous load of extras:
The Toy Box: A section consisting of Outtakes (5mins 27s), Who's the Coolest Toy featurette (3mins 19s) with cast interviews on their opinions of their favourite Toy Story toy, a music medley by Riders in the Sky consisting of Woody's Roundup, Jessie the Yodelling Cowgirl and You've Got a Friend in Me (3mins 11s), and some faux pas autographed pictures (45s). There's also a quiz like game to determine which Toy Story character you are (I'm a Buzz Lightyear!), through an interactive MCQ, and a pretty useless Japanese segment called "Ponkickies".
There are only 2 deleted scenes included after an introduction (47s) - Godzilla Rex (1min 28s) and Crossing the Road (1min 56s), and the Making of Toy Story 2 Featurette (8mins 10s).
Topping it off is a series of behind the scenes look into the making of the movie, consisting of plenty of sub menus and categories, with a profile on director John Lasseter (3mins 6s), and the cast of characters (3mins 30s). You'll also get to check out the designs of the characters - including galleries and 3D turnarounds (17mins), designs of sets - including galleries and 3D tours (11mins) and the design of colours in a gallery (4mins 30s).
There are also sub sections on Story (7mins 8s) - consisting of the story pitch of Woody's Nightmare sequence and the story sketch on Jessie's Song, a Production section (17mins 19s) on things like animation tests, special effects and the making of Woody's Roundup, a section on Music and Sound (14mins 8s) on the making of the songs and containing the Woody's Roundup music video, and Publicity materials (8mins 32s) with character interviews, trailers, TV spots and posters.
A lot of material there for anyone to get acquainted with the making of a masterpiece.