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“Toy Story 2” expands upon predecessor in every way

“Toy Story 2” is an example of a perfect sequel. Not only is it able to expand upon the themes of friendship and loyalty established in the first film, but it’s able to further develop the characters, world and animation in the Toy Story franchise.

The first notable detail about “Toy Story 2” is how much Pixar’s animation improved in just the one-year time span since their last movie, “A Bug’s Life”. Not once does any design ever appear spotty or underdeveloped. This movie looks as if it has not aged a single day, and that is the trend going forward with every single Pixar movie. From reflections of light on the toy’s plastic to reflections of characters on floors, every single detail is meticulously drawn. The accumulation of this detailed art style is the toy repair scene. The elegant strings playing in the background combined with the cleaner’s smooth movements make this scene feel like finally getting to scratch an itch you’ve had for hours.

Another leap taken from the first “Toy Story” is the writing and character development. Buzz serves a completely different role as the leader to the toys during Woody’s absence. He’s evolved as a character and has accepted his role as Andy’s toy. This is contrasted to the new Buzz who still thinks he is a space ranger. Tim Allen’s subtle voice changes between these two characters is really what sells the true difference between these characters and also what makes it so hilarious. On top of this, minor characters like Mr. Potato Head, Ham and Rex enjoy more screen time, which does wonders for the movie’s comedy.

However, the two standout characters are Woody and Jessie. The most important trait that Woody has is his undying loyalty to Andy. “Toy Story 2” asks the question: what would make him give up that loyalty? Throughout the entire first two-thirds, Woody longs to return to Andy, and, as a result, Jessie is furious with him. Jessie serves as an antagonist to Woody’s goal for the first part of the movie. She continually clashes with Woody, which pits both Woody and the audience against her. But, as Woody soon discovers, Jesse’s motivation stems from a tragic past. Jessie’s song is the first time that Pixar really tugs at your heartstrings--something they continue to do throughout their discography. It takes the original concept behind ‘Toy Story’-what if toys had feelings? and takes it to its natural conclusion: how do toys feel when their kid grows up? As a result, both Woody and the audience are finally able to sympathize with Jessie, which pushes Woody to stay with the round-up gang and leave Andy. This then leads to a perfect role reversal from the first movie where Buzz is the one talking sense into Woody.

This is why Pixar is the best at what they do. “Toy Story 2” is able to deliver an emotionally complex story under the guise of a kid’s movie. If I had one critique, it would be that I wish Woody had more time to live with the decision he made, but, as a whole, “Toy Story 2” builds upon the first installment in every way imaginable and also manages to stand alone as a unique movie.

Rating: Light 4

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