Film Review: Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2 is one of the most narratively perfect films ever. Not a single second is wasted in this ingenious, hilarious and moving film. It is a little disquieting that in the rash of excellent films that may come our way in the next few weeks, the best may turn out to be a computer generated cartoon.
Taking off from where the last film left off, Woody, Buzz and the rest of the toys are once again living in blissful contentment in Andy's Room. But when Woody is stolen by a rare toy collector (Woody was a doll based on a 50's kid's show), it is up to Buzz, Potato Head, Slink, Rex and Hamm to save him before he is shipped off to a museum in Japan. But the big question is, will Woody want to go back to a world in which he is fearful of ending in a dustbin? It's a slight plot that contains a wealth of ideas and meaning. The toy's fears of being broken, abandoned or sold are touchingly dealt with in the script from Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsaio, Doug Chamberlain and Chris Webb. There is an unusual level of emotion and depth to the characters, the likes of which put most big and small budget films to shame.
But do not think that the film is a sobering indictment of kid's inhumanity to toys. There is hardly a moment in the film when a smile will be off your lips. The film's parodies of both 'Star Wars' and 'Jurassic Park' are particularly funny. But the wonder of the film is that the majority of the laughs come naturally form the character's themselves, without resorting to emotionally distant set pieces. The writers even manage to get a sly dig at Barbie, who Mattel refused permission to be used in the first film.
John Lasseter can once again pat himself on the back for another Pixar wonder. The animation is faultless. Its is even more colourful than the last, with the facial expressions of the toys given a more subtle and realistic look. The only place where the film may be criticised is that the humans do not look as good, but that is a problem with the technology, not with Pixar's animators. As noted above, the film is like a finely honed athlete, with no flab or wasted energy. It manages the impossible task of bettering itself almost during every scene, with the final showdown in the airport one of the most thrilling action scenes you will see this year.
The vocal cast is perfect to a tee. Tom Hanks (Woody) and Tim Allen (Buzz) give the characters life, humour and poignancy. Of the supporting players, kudos must once again go to the late Jim Varney as Slink and Don Rickles as the cynical Potato Head. Of the newcomers, Joan Cusack as the lonely cowgirl Jessie and Kelsey Grammar as Stinky Pete make their mark in a picture which I am rapidly running out of superlatives to describe.
Then, just after the thrills of the airport, when you think it cannot simply get any better, Pixar once again prepare a special 'out-takes' section. It is an ending that ensures you are next in line for another ticket. Pixar have done the impossible; first of all, created their third family film that neither panders to kids or bores an adult and secondly, creates a sequel which surpasses its classic predecessor. And if you think I am mad for talking about a cartoon in this way, then drop that mouse and head out to your local fleapit. Better then 'American Beauty', this is a Millennial Masterpiece which will be robbed of its just deserts.