14 July 2010

TOY STORY 3 WEEK- Wait, Go Back One...

It occurs to me now, in the middle of Toy Story 3 Week, that I never got around to doing a Toy Story 2 review on this blog. I did the new one on Monday, and there was a review of the first film when it was re-released in 3D in October. Time to plug the gap in my reviews of the series, and in the week's planned posts...

An accident during playtime leaves a demoralised Woody sitting on the shelf as Andy goes off to cowboy camp at the beginning of Toy Story 2. In his owner's absence, he finds himself abducted by Al, a voracious toy collector who's spent years looking for the centrepiece in his Woody's Roundup merchandise collection. As Buzz and co race to rescue him, Woody warms to the idea of becoming a collectable in a museum, to be appreciated by kids for eternity...

Many will know from both previous posts and my willingness to dedicate a whole week to a sequel that I'm a big fan of Toy Story. For me, as with many others my age, it's the foundation stone in my appreciation of films, and it remains my personal second favourite film of all time. Any sequel would have to match pretty lofty expectations, even though I was only nine years old when this one came out.

Pixar have proven equal to that task twice now, and Toy Story 2 is a film that's just as good as the first one. It lacks the sheen of nostalgia that fuels my insane appreciation of the original, but it's just as fine a film. More than anything else, it enhances the story of these characters, bringing forward the notion that toys get broken and lost sometimes as their owners grow up.

That works well when you factor in the antagonist, Al, who's an even bigger geek than Sid was the first time around. He's a tempting prospect for the likes of Jessie the cowgirl, Bullseye the horse and Stinky Pete the prospector, who've spent years and years in storage rather than getting the attention that toys are seen to crave in these films.

We're not going to broach the topic of Jessie too deeply except to say that Pixar is stupid, making stupid toys sing stupid songs that make people cry. Sniffle. But anyway, even academics have come forward to call this a perfect film. This story and these characters continue to garner high praise in the framework of a mere "kids' film". Critics have also bandied around phrases like "the Godfather II of animated movies", but there, I have to disagree.

The Godfather Part II is frequently brought out as shorthand when someone thinks a sequel is particularly good, but Toy Story 2 has what that other trilogy never had. It has heart, and characters you can actually empathise with. I've said before that I never particularly liked the Godfather trilogy, even though it's pretty much perfect on a technical level. Pixar somehow manage to get emotional resonance alongside technical perfection time and time again, and they don't need an excess of three hours to do it. Hell, they only need pixels and some great voice performances!

Toy Story 2 is just as epic as its live-action counterparts, from its nicely misleading opening to the big old traditional chase scene finale. It's bookended by a modern classic and the upcoming conclusion, but it is just as substantial as either of those, and well worth revisiting. I've heard people claim they didn't even know there was a Toy Story 2, so it's definitely worth revisiting. 

Toy Story 3 Week continues tomorrow.

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