Toy Story 2 (1999)

***

When I watched the original Toy Story, I was struck by how fresh it felt. The movie is short, yet refined and covers a lot of ground in its running time. While its sequel (which was released to great fanfare four years later) is still a good movie, it doesn’t retain the same sense of timelessness that the original does.

The main issue I have with Toy Story 2 is its pacing. The movie starts off well, reintroducing the star-studded toy cast of the original while cleverly presenting a sense of danger with a garage sale. But after Woody is taken hostage by a bumbling toy collector, and Buzz and the gang set off to rescue him, things start to drag quite a bit, particularly in the segments featuring Woody and his new accomplices in Al’s apartment. Jessie seems much more over-animated and annoying than I remember and neither Al nor Easy Pete,who ends up being the the movie’s main antagonist (I guess), are anywhere near the level of Sid. Even so, the movie also has a lot of great moments, particularly when Buzz and his rescue team of misfits must traverse a busy highway before entering a toy store filled with swinging barbies, video game strategy guides, and yet another delusional Buzz Lightyear (with a new utility belt!). The elevator scene in the end is also quite excellent and leads to a pretty thrilling climax.

While Toy Story 2 is not quite at the level of its predecessor (or A Bug’s Life, for that matter), it’s still a good time and certainly above the average children’s movie. Best of all, it set the stage for the surprising (and beloved) return of Toy Story to the silver screen over a decade later. That alone makes it worth seeing.

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