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Movie Review: “Toy Story 2”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Toy Story 2

Theatrical Release: 11/24/1999

Theatrical Release: 11/24/1999

Synopsis

When Woody (Tom Hanks) accidentally winds up at a yard sale that Andy’s mom is hosting, he catches the eye of a desperate toy collector (Wayne Knight). The collector has been looking for a Woody doll for some time. Turns out that Woody is part of a set, and while the collector has the rest of the set, and plenty of Woody collectible items, he has yet to find a Woody doll in good condition. That is, he had not found one until his eye spotted Woody at the yard sale.

The collector was desperate to complete his set, so he stole Woody. While Buzz (Tim Allen) and the rest of Andy’s toys set out on a mission to find and rescue Woody, Woody learns that he was once a popular toy. He desperately wants to get back to Andy, but after meeting the other toys in his set, Woody has a difficult decision to make. However, if Woody does not escape soon, he will be taken far away from Andy, and will most likely never see the boy or his fellow toys again.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Woody & Andy (+6pts)

Buzz (-3pts)

Jessie & Bullseye (+4pts)

Prospector (-3pts)

Andy’s Toys (+6pts)

The Stakes (-2pts)

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Pro: Woody & Andy (+6pts)

Most of this story was about purpose. Woody has loved being Andy’s favorite toy, but in this movie, Woody began to realize that his days of being Andy’s toy were numbered. Eventually, Andy would grow up, and when that happened, what would become of Woody? This was a question that Woody was forced to confront, and I thought it was interesting to watch him do so.

Woody really had an identity crisis in this movie. Andy meant everything to him, but Andy growing up was inevitable, and what would happen to Woody when he did? This crisis worked, because it showed the audience how important the bond that toys feel toward their owners. It made the relationship between toy and owner feel important, and the filmmakers did a good job of playing into the drama of that throughout Woody’s story. I did not like this movie quite as much as I liked the first one, but one thing that the filmmakers got right with this one was the drama and the emotion that they injected into the main storyline.

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Con: Buzz (-3pts)

This was an area of the movie that I thought suffered from sequel-itis. Buzz’s storyline just felt like a lazy knock-off what it should have been. It was almost as if the filmmakers did not know what to do with him, with all of the focus being on Woody, so they just whipped something together quick. We saw another Buzz action figure come face-to-face with our Buzz, and the interactions were comical at times, and part of me liked seeing our Buzz confront what he himself used to be, but it all just felt hollow. The same was true when we saw Zurg. There were some funny moments that referenced a certain lightsaber-centric movie franchise, but for the most part, this was missing any real substance. All the focus was on Woody, and that was fine, but it definitely felt like Buzz was treated as an after thought.

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Pro: Jessie & Bullseye (+4pts)

At first, I did not think I would like these two. My first impression was that one would feel like a female copy of Woody, while the other would feel like little more than a prop. Fortunately, these characters were way more than that. Jessie had a wild personality, and very much felt like her own character.

Jessie also had a tragic story that centered around once having a kid much like Andy, which resonated with both Woody and the audience, because we already knew what Andy meant to Woody, so it was easy to get what Jessie’s kid once meant to her. Then there was Bullseye who was simply a loyal, innocent companion that was impossible not to like. You never know how well new characters will work in sequels, but I thought these two ended up working really well. Both were entertaining, and Jessie had a tragic story that was easy to sympathize with, and which contributed heavily into Woody’s dilemma in this movie.

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Con: Prospector (-3pts)

What can I say about this character without spoiling the story? Well, the Prospector was the third member of the new group of toys that Woody met. However, unlike Jessie and Bullseye, I was not a fan of the direction the filmmakers went in with the Prospector. The character got little development, but his actions were clearly meant to get a reaction out of the audience, and I ended up caring very little.

His storyline just felt lazily thrown together as an excuse for him to do things that the filmmakers wanted him to do. This was a shame, especially when considering how well the filmmakers did at making us care about Jessie. If they had given the Prospector similar treatment then I think this movie would have been improved greatly. Unfortunately they did not, and the Prospector and his actions were important to the main story, which ultimately suffered as a result of not developing the character in an interesting way.

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Pro: Andy’s Toys (+6pts)

There is not a whole lot that really needs to be said here. Simply put: Andy’s assortment of toys are just fun to watch. This movie saw a certain group on a mission to rescue the lost Woody. This group consisted of Buzz, Rex (Wallace Shawn), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), and Hamm (John Ratzenberger).

It was just fun to watch this group of toys on their adventure to save Woody. Their perspective of the toy store, their use of the cones, and all the jokes they made along the way made this movie a lot more fun than it would have been otherwise. Was it constant, hysterical comedy from them? No, but it was a pretty entertaining adventure, and these were an entertaining group of characters to watch go on it.

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Con: The Stakes (-2pts)

This was one of those movies where the filmmakers introduced a possible outcome that no matter how much they tried to set it up as a possibility, I always knew (even as a kid) where Woody would end up by the end of the story. It was one of those movies where you will know the main character’s final decision before they do, and you will know how the movie ends long before it happens. I think the movie would have been better off if the filmmakers made this bad outcome something that the audience thought was actually possible. Instead, they went with something which very obviously had no chance of happening, and it sort of took all of the stakes out of the story.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B- (83pts)

Toy Story was a really good kids movie, and I remember being a kid and being excited for the sequel. Toy Story 2 was decent, but I did not think it was quite as good as the movie that came before it. The filmmakers brought back Andy's group of toys, and it was fun to see them interacting with new environments (like the toy store). Then there was Woody's story which had plenty of heart, and focused on a couple of interesting ideas. The first was how much toys care about their owners, and the second was the purpose that toys serve once their owners grow up.

Woody's storyline had plenty of drama and interesting character development, but it also introduced a couple of strong new characters with Jessie and Bullseye. Unfortunately, it also introduced the Prospector, who I thought was a bland, unnecessary character whose story felt lazily thrown together in order to force the overall story in a certain direction. I also thought Buzz's role felt like the filmmakers did not know what to do with him in the movie, as his whole story was just sort of happening, but it had no impact on me or the greater story. It just felt like it was tagged on after the filmmakers realized they had no place for him in the main story. Fortunately, this movie's problems were far from being enough to ruin the movie. It was a decent sequel, and was a fun, entertaining kids movie, which I actually thought had more heart than the movie that came before it.