Volume 93, Issue 51
Tuesday, November 30, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Toy Story 2goes to infinity and beyond
Gazette file photo
NONE OF THE OTHER TOYS WANTED TO TELL BUZZ HE WAS EQUIPPED WITH THE 'BETSY WETSY' FUNCTION. Buzz Lightyear returns wetter and better in the newest Pixar computer animated feature, Toy Story 2
By Chad Finkelstein
They market the brand new Disney masterpiece as youth-oriented, give it a "G" rating and families flock to the theatres, but don't be fooled on many levels, Toy Story 2 is not for kids.
This newest addition to the burgeoning Disney treasure chest follows in the genius tradition of its predecessor, but this time there's a little more of an edge to it. The movie picks up with all the toys living in harmony together until a yard sale threatens their existence.
Unfortunately, a squeak toy that they all know and love has been deported to the Great Beyond to find new continuance in whatever lies ahead. Lovable cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks) won't stand for the loss and ventures out to save his helpless comrade.
In the process, he is spotted by a wily toy collector (voiced with perfect malevolence by Seinfeld's Wayne Knight) and is stolen, to be resold to a Japanese toy museum. As Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potato Head and other assorted toys strive to bring Woody home, the lovable cowboy begins contemplating his position and concludes that since kids eventually get old and throw their toys away, being preserved in a museum might not be such a bad idea after all.
Obviously, this is a movie targeted to children there are enough slapstick routines and over-the-top scenarios here to keep the little rugrats squealing in the aisles. But the beauty of the film is that there's also a lot of humour geared towards an older crowd.
Tiny montages involving channel surfing or toy store aisles are packed with hidden jokes and clever pop culture references. One particularly riotous scene has the gang of playthings cruising in a Hot Wheels convertible only to stumble upon a Barbie doll party complete with go-go music and outfits.
There's nothing inappropriate or questionable here, but it is highly doubtful the same child who falls into hysterics watching Woody fall off a shelf is going to get a joke involving Rock 'Em Sock 'Em action figures. It's this sort of duality which makes Toy Story 2 so incredibly smart. The creators flawlessly place anything associated with children into adult situations.
In addition, the celebrity voiceovers are mixed in so fittingly that at times the toys are not mimicking adults as much as they are becoming them. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles and many other characters from the original story, reprise their custom-made personas, while a few other worthy additions enhance the already lively atmosphere.
Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer and the aforementioned Knight create their animated Mini-Me's with such precise realism that at times one forgets this is a computer generated movie.
Thankfully, unlike most sequels, this movie does not simply take the blueprint of its prequel and recycle it. Toy Story 2 is a brand new movie packed with predictable glee and a few surprises for viewers young and old.
Hopefully, this movie will ignite a welcome film franchise that older audiences can relate to and younger ones will one day recognize for its brilliantly satirical intentions.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999