We're so glad to have this time together,
to have a laugh and thankfully sing no songs....
The mark of a good motion picture is when you have no desire to see a particular
movie and end up loving it. Such is the case with Toy Story 2, a rare sequel that
surpasses the original.
The first "Toy Story" introduced us to the toys of a boy in suburban America. It was
technically impressive and cute with a so-so story line. The new movie, "Toy Story 2" is more emotionally engaging than the first movie with mythic themes about mortality
The plot is simple as a good, old-fashioned John Wayne western. Woody is
kidnapped, and his friends come to rescue him. The movie is a whole series of rescue
missions, each more creative than the last. There are many mini moments of levity and
humor that work at both a child’s and adult’s level.
One such feature our heroes on an "Animal-House" inspired road trip through Al’s toy
barn. There is a tense moment involving Mr. Potato Head (voiced by insult comedian
Don Rickles), and his efforts to cross the street. Unlike the nightmare visions of last
year’s "A Bug’s Life," a spirit of fun and goodwill prevails throughout "Toy Story 2."
While this movie is a visual feast for the eyes, the audio elements enchant this
last classic of the twentieth century.
The Walt Disney/Pixar computer-animated feature reunites the same cast and crew from the original. Leading men Tom Hanks and Tim Allen return as the voices of Woody and Buzz Lightyear, respectively. Pine Crest graduate Kelsey Grammer voices Stinky Pete, an envious toy left on a shelf too long. Most well-known for playing the psychiatrist on the TV show Frasier, Grammer is an inspired voice-casting as a Gabby Hayes look-alike character who devils the Roy Rogers-like Woody. Joan Cusack voices a Dale Evans doll who, along with Stinky Pete and Woody, were members of the original 1950s marionette TV show, Woody’s Roundup. An inspiring musical score by Randy Newman and the eclectic vocal mix of Sarah McLachlan, Robert Goulet, and Riders of the Sky give the audience a totally positive movie experience.
A child sees a toy as something alive. A teenager sees it as an embarrassing
artifact of their not-to-cool days. A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books ended when
Christopher Robin went off to his first day of school. Puff the Magic Dragon suffered
a similar fate when little Jackie Paper stopped visiting him.
"Toy Story 2" is not bleak and suggests that our toys never die but are reborn again with our future children. Perhaps the theme of rescue is about saving the inner child within ourselves. "Toy Story 2" should appeal to anybody who has ever had a favorite toy.
As my sister Carol prepares to sell her home of 19 years, she is confronting nostalgia. As Carol watched her children grow up and go to college, my niece and nephew left behind their toys. Now it is time to trash or donate these artifacts from the eighties, but the memories of good times are becoming stronger. Pixar/Disney has tapped into this social right of passage and the empty nest syndrom with **Toy Story 3.** Parents, bring your kleenex.
It has been eleven years since **Toy Story 2** and Cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) and Hamm (John Ratzenberger) have been spending their recent years in a dark basket. Andy (John Morris, who voiced the previous **Toy Stories**) is preparing for college, but his mother (Laurie Metcalf) keeps nagging him to clean out his room. Andy makes a decision to take Woody to college, but leave the rest of the toys in the attic. Through coincidence and happenstance, the toys end up in Sunnyvale Preschool.
At first, Andy's toys accept their new environment with joy. The avuncular Teddy Bear Mr. Lotso (Ned Beatty) provides Andy's toys with an orientation. Barbie (Jodi Benson) meets her soul mate Ken (Michael Keaton), whose relationship becomes more profound (and kinky) than the television commercials imply.
However much like Pinocchio on Pleasure Island, the situation turns sinister. Many of the Sunnyvale toys are victims of obnoxious children. These spoiled children are disrespectful and torture Andy's toys. After one day of abuse, Buzz Lightyear organizes the great escape. Much like the previous **Toy Stories,** the escape plan goes awry and the characters go out of the frying pan into the mouth of a garbage incinerator.
**Toy Story 3** is the darkest film of the trilogy, but like any good epic, one must go through hell to get to Heaven. The emotional payoff is that good. For all of their technical brilliance and attention to detail, Pixar's box office track record is sustained by good storytelling and engaging character development.
Three years ago, 13 movies were released that were the concluding chapter of a trilogy. Most of these movies (**Spider-Man 3,** **The Bourne Ultimatum**) were critical disappointments. **Toy Story 3** is a natural extension of the previous movies and is a satisfying conclusion. Given the phenomenal success of **Toy Story 3,** Hollywood executives should take note of how to successfully wrap up an epic story.
**Toy Story 3** is a great movie, with or without a six story IMAX screen. However, to appreciate the spectacle of **Toy Story 3,** try seeing at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery within the next 6 days before **The Twilight Saga Eclipse** confiscates the big screen. Don't let the bloodsuckers ruin your summer, go see **Toy Story 3.**