Toy Story 2 Review

Buzz Lightyear: Woody once risked his life to save me. I couldn’t call myself his friend if I weren’t willing to do the same. So, who’s with me?

Beware: Spoilers may follow.

The original Toy Story was the first movie produced by Pixar and quickly established their place in animation history. Their second film a Bug’s Life while good didn’t have the same turnout. Toy Story 2 however not only outdid its predecessor but also proved that Pixar was there to stay as one of the animation titans.

The story is that Woody, Buzz, and all the other toys are back again. When Andy accidentally tears Woody’s arm he is unable to take him to cowboy camp and Woody winds on the shelf. To make matters worse Andy’s mom is putting on a yard sale and a toy penguin named Wheezy is to be sold. Woody tries to rescue him but ultimately winds up stolen in the process by a greedy toy store owner named Al. It turns out Woody is part of a collection of toys based on a TV show called Woody’s Roundup along with a horse named Bullseye, a cowgirl named Jessie, and a miner named the Prospector. They are all to be sold to a toy museum in Tokyo where people from all over the world would come just to see he exists. Buzz and a bunch of other toys set out to rescue Woody but as he spends more time with the roundup gang he realizes he may not want to return as he knows that he will have to face the inevitable truth that eventually Andy will grow up and one day forget about him.

Perhaps the greatest strength of this movie lies in the conflict Woody is faced with. It doesn’t paint extremes of the situation it paints it in a way that you almost side with Woody’s choice to go to the museum but at the same time still get angry with him when he outright lets down the friends who traveled so far to rescue him by refusing to return home.

When the movie has to do drama it is perfect. Never does it feel misplaced and the outcome of the dramatic moments give a sense of emotional satisfaction.

Jessie’s backstory about how she had an owner named Emily who loved her as a kid but eventually outgrew and forgot about her is probably the most emotional part of the entire movie. The song When she Loved Me played over the visuals of Jessie’s time with Emily up to her being donated away cements it not only as one of the saddest moments throughout the Toy Story trilogy but also one of the saddest moments in all of Pixar.

While Al is sort of a villain with his plan to sell the roundup gang, the Prospector is the real villain with his plan to have him and the others sold to the museum by any means necessary. And much like Jessie he does have a backstory. Unlike Jessie however, his backstory is not shown in any way. However, his line about how he spent so much time on a dime store shelf watching every other toy but him be sold and the amount of time he spent in his box really makes you understand how horrible he turned out to be. His final words even foreshadow the events of the sequel eleven years later.

You also have the first appearance of the Evil Emperor Zurg and another Buzz Lightyear (with a new utility belt) who like Andy’s Buzz before him thinks he is an actual space ranger who provide a great deal of comedy through their shenanigans. They would also prove to be partially responsible for giving us the Buzz Lightyearspin-off two years later.

The animation had vastly improved from the first Toy Story movie. While it clearly had a long way to go at the time and the people don’t look like real people the textures particularly on the toys vastly improved making them feel like toys but also alive at the same time.

Toy Story 2 is not only a great Pixar sequel but also one of the greatest sequels of all time. It not only showed that Pixar was there to stay as a top contender in the world of animation but also that some sequels could truly outdo their predecessors.