Toy Story 2 (1999)
Main cast: Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Kelsey Grammer (Stinky Pete) and Joan Cusack (Jessie the Cowgirl)
Director: John Lasseter

Ooh, this movie is simply a delight! I love it! Although I still have reservations about two guys named Woody and Buzz who seem to have eyes more for each other than Little Bo-Peep or Jessie the Cowgirl, nonetheless, I had a grand time watching Toy Story 2. They're right: this is too good to be a sequel.

This time, Woody suffers from a torn seam in his arm and is left behind by his owner Andy. Woody so much wanted to attend the Cowboy Camp Andy was attending, and seeing a dear toy penguin being sold off in yard sale only reaffirm his fears about his own longevity (or lack of it) as a toy. Andy doesn't love him anymore, does he? Where will he end up when Andy doesn't want him anymore? In an attempt to rescue the penguin (aided by Buster the dog), Woody ends up in the hands of Al, a toystore owner who recognizes Woody as a rare vintage original toy dating back to the black-and-white TV days. Why, he could sell Woody to a Japanese museum and never has to work again!

Buzz, Rex the Dinosaur, Slinky Dog, and Mr Potato Head set out to the Outside World to rescue Woody. Woody, however, is having the time of his life discovering the other toys that are the members of his Roundup Gang - Jessie, Stinky Pete, and Bullseye the Donkey - and life in a museum, adored by children, seems a much better life than being shelved and later sold off in a bargain garage sale.

What will Woody do? Go back to Andy and consign his newfound Roundup Gang back to storage? Enjoy a new life as a museum display?

This movie addresses the issues of loyalty, trust, responsibility, and friendship in a manner a little deeper than the usual superficial skimming of many cartoons. It is effective enough to give TS2 an intelligent air that allows it to be enjoyed by old codgers like me even as I revel in the exciting chases and near-misses (check out the grand finale of a chase!). I also adore the sly Luke Skywalker-Darth Vader angle between a Buzz Lightyear clone and its nemesis - the way they resolve their differences is darned hilarious. With funny supporting characters... er, toys, the otherwise bland Woody and even more bland Buzz manage to keep the story afloat. Jessie is especially adorable as a spunky yet claustrophobic cowgirl, her rendition of When She Loved Me (sung by Sarah McLachlan) simply heartbreaking yet beautiful. However, in the end, she's a bit too passive for my liking. It's as if someone remembers this is a boy's show so let's make the boys rescue the damsel in distress, shall we?

It's always fun revisiting Mr Potato Head who now has a Missus plus three adopted green martian toys (the latter are so cute, I want ten of them). Rex finally discovers his courage, and Slinky can always be counted to deliver the laughs.

It's weird, when I think of it, that this show is ultimately made fun by the supporting characters. No matter. The animation is perfect, the whole thing looks great, and it is funny and exciting to boot. I can't ask for more.

Rating: 87

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