In a film series, the second is the most important. It is a litmus test of two important questions: 1. Is there an audience appetite for the sequel? and 2. Is there enough of a narrative to warrant a second movie?
Toy Story 2 (1999) is the second tale within the Toy Story franchise. After Woody (Tom Hanks) is stolen by a toy collector, it is up to his friends to save him. While Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) works on the outside to free Woody, Woody makes friends on the inside. Jessie (Joan Cusack) is a cowgirl and a part of the wild west line of playthings.
I enjoyed Toy Story 2. It has everything that made its predecessor great and then some. It is funny, entertaining, and suspenseful, and the addition of the new characters provides enough stretch to make the story plausible.
As Buzz continues in his efforts to get his crew home, time moves on. When he finally achieves his goal, he discovers that it has been sixty years since his first attempt. An army of robots led by Zurg (James Brolin) is doing everything they can to steal his power source. Leading a small band of misfits that includes Alicia’s granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer), Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), Darby Steel (Dale Soules), and the animatronic cat Sox (Peter Sohn), they must save the day and stop Zurg.
I have mixed feelings about this film. As a standalone narrative, it’s not bad. I appreciate the diversity and representation of the characters. But I also feel like Disney and Pixar are perhaps becoming a little too reliant on a known quantity instead of trying out something new. The lessons within the story are universal and ageless, but that does not take away from the fact that this is the fifth time that we have seen Buzz on the big screen.
When a sequel or a prequel to a beloved franchise is released, the hope is that not only will it live up to the original work, but it will expand the story.
In 1995, the original Toy Story was released. It was an instant success and revolutionized animated films. 24 years later, Toy Story 4was released.
The 4th film in the series picks up just after the 3rd film ended. Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw), the young girl who inherited the toys is starting Kindergarten and is not feeling it. During orientation, she creates Forky (Tony Hale) and immediately adopts him as one of her toys. But Forky is not immediately convinced that he is a toy.
When Bonnie’s parents take her on a road trip before school starts, Woody (Tom Hanks), makes it his business to ensure that Forky does not escape. But inevitably, he does, separating Woody from Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the toys. Before reuniting with the rest of the crew, Woody meets up with Bo Peep (Annie Potts), his unrequited crush who has become a bad-ass. They have to rescue Forky from the hands of potentially psychopathic Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) with the help of Duke Kaboom (Keanu Reeves).
Upon release of the trailer, some may have asked why this film was necessary. The previous film tied up the narrative strings so perfectly that this film may seem like an easy cash grab by Disney.
It’s not. It expands the narrative in new and different ways. I loved the expansion of Bo Peep as a character and the message that it sends to women and girls of any age. I also loved the narrative of coming to the realization that things and relationships change. When we come to that point, we can either stay where we are or have the courage to step into the unknown for an adventure that is not yet revealed to us.
This film has humor, has heart and speaks to both children and adults.
I absolutely recommend it.
Toy Story 4 is presently in theaters.
P.S. Stay past the initial credits. The post credit scenes are worth the wait.
When we are young, our toys are our best friends. They are inanimate objects in which we bestow our hopes and our fears. But what would happen if the toys came to life when their humans were not around?
Woody the cowboy (Tom Hanks) has been the favorite toy of Andy (John Morris) for a very long time. Then Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) is brought home and Woody feels like he has lost his place in the universe. Buzz becomes Andy’s new favorite toy and Woody becomes jealous. In an attempt to get rid of Buzz, Woody removes them both from the comfort of Andy’s room. Now they must work together to get home before Andy moves and leaves them behind forever.
The graphics, especially for a movie made in 1995 are incredible. At the time, they were groundbreaking. But what makes the movie for me at least is the story. For a kid’s movie, the plot and journey that the characters go through is very mature. It also appeals to the adults who remember when they were kids and saw their toys not as pieces of plastic and metal molded together, but as an extension of themselves.