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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

TOY STORY 2 (2000)

DISNEY put a lot of pressure on the sequel-phobic folks at PIXAR Animation for a follow-up to the hugely successful TOY STORY/’95. And, to their credit, once Pixar came on board, they went at it a hundred percent. All the creative types back, all the vocal talent re-upped. The only thing missing was the magic. No small thing. In #2, the special relationship between a boy & his toys (which returns to great effect as the emotional core of TOY STORY 3) is largely jettisoned for a workable, but workaday kidnapping caper involving a slimy toy dealer who covets Cowboy Woody to complete a rare set of t.v. characters. The kid (Andy) is off at camp for most of the film. It’s a throwaway story idea fit for a Nickelodeon series (‘Help! Sponge Bob’s been grabbed by a mad toy collector!’), but it’s short on emotional resonance. Worse, the toys don’t stay close to the house and the loss of enclosure, the ability to do too much, too easily, hurts the sense of accomplishment and even the little kid in us that wants to believe in the fantasy. #2 is fun, technically accomplished, beautifully paced and cleverly detailed. But PIXAR set the bar pretty high, and they’ve got to live with it. Watch it anyway so you don’t miss a trick (or a reference) in #3.

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