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Posted by Addie Pray on November 18, 1999 at 09:33:25:

Hollywood Reporter

By Kirk Honeycutt

"Toy Story 2" is a triumph at every
level. In its third feature film --
following the totally delightful "Toy
Story" and "A Bug's Life" -- Pixar
Animation Studios has raised the bar
considerably in terms of wit, character development, storytelling and
computer technology. Pixar and its partner Walt Disney Studios can look
forward to a tremendous worldwide success with this very funny, clever
and original film.

"Toy Story 2" does what few sequels ever do: Instead of essentially
remaking an earlier film and deeming it a sequel, the creative team, led by
director John Lasseter, delves deeper into their characters while retaining
the fun spirit of the original film.

The film begins in a familiar setting: young Andy's upstairs bedroom, where
his toys come alive only when their owner is absent. Woody, the cowboy doll
(voiced by Tom Hanks), is now best buddies with his rival from the first
film,
the high-tech space ranger Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). The story springs to
life when Woody gets "kidnapped" by Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight), a toy store
owner who recognizes Woody's value as a collectible.

This launches the toys into adventures in many new environments: bustling
downtown streets, Al's cavernous toy store, his 23-story high-rise art deco
apartment building including its forbidding elevator shaft and, in perhaps
the
wildest set, an airport baggage-handling area whose myriad conveyer belts
act
like a gigantic amusement park ride.

Woody's kidnapping opens up a whole new world to him: He discovers he
was a toy that derived from a 1950s black-and-white TV show called
"Woody's Roundup." And he has a previously unknown family in Jessie the
cowgirl (Joan Cusack), his horse Bullseye and Stinky Pete the prospector
(Kelsey Grammer).

So while Buzz and the other toys -- Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Slinky
Dog (Jim Varney), Rex (Wallace Shawn) and Hamm (John Ratzenberger) --
plunge into various escapades to rescue their purloined pal, Woody must
decide whether he wants to return to Andy's room (with the full knowledge
that Andy will one day grow up and get rid of his toys) or remain forever
with
his new family as collectibles in a Japanese museum.

So, as with the original film, "Toy Story 2" is a meditation on the value of
friendship and fears of abandonment -- things that concern children and
adults
alike.

The design of the characters and their interactions with their world is
infinitely more sophisticated than it was a mere four years ago. The camera
is more fluid, with less cutting to express movement. And the rendering of
human characters -- in particular Al and the Cleaner (Jonathan Harris), who
restores old dolls -- represents a quantum leap in computer technology.

Humans have always been the most difficult to portray with computer
animation. Pixar's animators, who began experimenting with humans in their
1997 Oscar-winning short "Geri's Game," have now succeeded in creating
human figures with realistic facial and muscle movements.

The screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao and Doug Chamberlin & Chris
Webb never lets up in its action or humor. (Most appealingly, one tends to
feed the other.) In the toy store sequence, for instance, Andy's gang joy
rides
in a toy car, Buzz Lightyear has a startling encounter with a vast wall of
Buzz
Lightyear dolls, some very hip Barbie dolls swing into action, and Buzz's
nemesis, the evil Emperor Zurg (Andrew Stanton), gets activated.

The action only slows once, for a ballad by Jessie (penned by Randy Newman
and performed by Grammy winner Sarah McLachlan) that may cause young
children to grow a tad restless.

Pixar's animators have once again drawn characters that fit their voice
artist to perfection. (Is Hanks starting to look like Woody, or is it the
other way around?) Given the wealth of toy characters and a 93-minute
running
time, it's amazing how swiftly the audience becomes familiar with all these
personalities and their idiosyncrasies.

Add to this the army of artists needed to produce such a film, and you can't
help being impressed at how seamless the unity of purpose is behind this
film.

At the close of the century, it's certainly fair to say that in terms of
feature animation, "Toy Story 2" is as good as it gets.

TOY STORY 2
Buena Vista Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures presents
a Pixar Animation Studios film
Producers: Helene Plotkin, Karen Robert Jackson
Director: John Lasseter
Co-directors: Lee Unkrich, Ash Brannon
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Doug Chamberlin & Chris Webb
Story: John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Ash Brannon, Andrew Stanton
Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Doug Chamberlain & Chris Webb
Executive producer: Sarah McArthur
Director of photography: Sharon Calahan
Production designers: William Cone, Jim Pearson
Music: Randy Newman
Editors: Edie Bleiman, David Ian Salter, Lee Unkrich
Supervising technical director: Galyn Susman
Color/stereo
Cast:
Woody: Tom Hanks
Buzz Lightyear: Tim Allen
Jessie: Joan Cusack
Prospector: Kelsey Grammer
Mr. Potato Head: Don Rickles
Slinky Dog: Jim Varney
Rex: Wallace Shawn
Hamm: John Ratzenberger
Bo Peep: Annie Potts
Al McWhiggin: Wayne Knight
Running time -- 93 minutes
MPAA rating: G


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