Movie Review: Toy Story 2

by David Sokol
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Toy Story 2

Rated: G for General Audiences
Recommended for: ages 3 and up
Run Time: 92 minutes

Quick Take: A wooden toy faces a harrowing dilemma, leaving both kids and adults enthralled.

Pixar Strikes Again with a Feast for the Eyes

Although the story starts a bit slowly, the movie is a joyful ride from start to finish. It's a visual and aural feast with each toy looking and sounding so real, you'll have to resist the urge to reach out and touch them. They're so full of life and personality, and that's what gives TS2 such soul. The adventure itself is full of fun, with smartly crafted twists and turns, but at its heart is how alive a toy is through the eyes of a child (in stark contrast to how that same toy is seen by someone like Al, who only values it as a money-making commodity). The movie works on so many levels, and there are so many captivating visual details that kids and grown-ups will love watching it together, and over and over again.

Kids Will Like:
The toys, for starters. (Duh!) They're just so vivid and such fun to watch! Kids will love the ensemble cast and the way they interact, so humanly, with one another. They'll relate to Woody or Jessie or Buzz and root for Buzz and his pals to safely rescue Woody from Al McWhiggin's slimy clutches. And kids will be enthralled by the scenes inside the toy store, with aisle upon aisle of cool stuff, and shelves fully stocked with Buzz Lightyear action figures.

Parents Will Like:
There's a clever balance between the nostalgic and the futuristic. While Buzz represents space-age fun, there are plenty or older toys such as Slinky Dog, Mr. Potato Head, and of course, Sheriff Woody, that evoke simpler times. And with the introduction of Jessie, Bullseye, and lots of Barbie dolls in TS2, there are even more charming toys this time around. Parents, like their kids, will be awed by the ultra lifelike computer animation, true eye candy, and by the underlying storyline. Ultimately, Woody wants to return home to Andy's room, even at the risk of possibly being discarded one day. And he wants the best of both worlds, and devises a way to bring his new friends home with him.

Heads Up:
There's nothing really frightening here, though the Emperor Zurg toy is dark and mean. (In a Darth Vader-esque moment, Zurg claims to be Buzz's father.) And there are some daring chase scenes: In one, Woody's old friends race to the airport in a Pizza Planet delivery truck, just a step behind Al, who has Woody in tow. Al isn't evil, he's just greedy. To him, the toys are merchandise, without the hearts and souls that the kids give them.

Own It?
Absolutely. Just as with the original Toy Story, TS2 holds up to repeated viewings, and is an even more engaging story. And there are wonderful extras including hilarious outtakes.

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