Reviewed by: Jason Murphy
|Featuring||Tom Hanks (Woody—voice), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear—voice), Joan Cusack (Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl—voice), Kelsey Grammer (Stinky Pete the Prospector—voice), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head—voice), Jim Varney (Slinky Dog—voice), Wallace Shawn (Rex the Green Dinosaur—voice), John Ratzenberger (Hamm the Piggy Bank—voice), Annie Potts (Bo Peep—voice), Wayne Knight (Al the Toy Collector—voice), John Morris (Andy—voice), Laurie Metcalf (Andy’s Mom—voice), Estelle Harris (Mrs. Potato Head—voice), See all »|
|Director||John Lasseter, Ash Brannon, Lee Unkrich|
|Producer||Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures, Karen Robert Jackson, Sarah McArthur, Helene Plotkin|
|Distributor||Buena Vista Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures|
“The toys are back!”
I’ll say it straight out. In my opinion, Pixar is by far the best animation studio in the U.S. (close to the best animation studio in the world, if not for Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli in Japan, creators of “Princess Mononoke”). And Pixar’s newest film, “Toy Story 2”, is simply a pure joy to watch. It also stands as one of the few sequels that is better than the original (and “A Bug’s Life”, for that matter). Featuring more stunning animation, a great story, and a much deeper emotional core, it is one of the rare films I would unconditionally recommend to everyone, of any age, with or without kids.
I really don’t want to say anything about the story, except that it is wonderful, and it sees the return of Woody, Buzz, and all the old favorites, as well as many new and memorable characters. Not resting on their previous success, the people at Pixar have pushed their technology much farther, and it shows. Everything looks fantastic, modeled in exquisite detail, with some jaw dropping animation. Not surprisingly, the movie is hilarious. It contains some of the best in-jokes and film references I have seen. More surprisingly, the movie comes off as a really solid drama, with incredible performances; at times I completely forgot that I was watching a bunch of animated toys.
Not only is this a great film from a technological, emotional and artistic perspective, it’s also good from a Christian one. It really is a story about love, faithful friendship, and on a relational level, choosing the things that are important in life. Nothing objectionable, although those with really young kids should of course check for themselves to see if they deem it appropriate (www.screenit.com). Also notably, it doesn’t shy away from the pain and rejection that some of the characters feel, nor does it wallow there.
Earlier this year, I criticized Disney Animation for having lost the magic storytelling it once had. My case in point: “Tarzan”. It felt like two different movies that were patched together, and not very well. They took a great story, and decided that they had to dumb it down for kids, and add lots of humor that really had nothing to do with the story. Pixar’s “Toy Story 2” (which was not made by Disney, but distributed by it), shows how to make a great film with a great story, which is great for kids, but not dumb at all, rather very well written and with a sharp comic edge rarely found in today’s films. I only hope that Disney and anyone else looking to make great family films follows the example that Pixar has provided here.
In short, it’s rare that I find a movie where I find myself laughing half to death, choking back tears, AND walking out of the theater with a huge giddy grin on my face. “Toy Story 2” is one of those movies. Go see it, and drag the kids if necessary.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.