Hank: Gather around, kids of all ages! Saddle up the stuffed horses, load your Colt revolvers, and climb aboard the Pixar Stagecoach of Joy with “Toy Story 2”! Don’t worry about buckling your seatbelt! Pixar is all about smooth rides! John Lasseter and the rootinest tootinest cowboys and cowgirls of Pixar came back with a 1999 sequel to their original “Toy Story”! This time around, they gave us an undercover Western adventure! When owner Andy departs for cowboy camp, he does so without Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks). The abandoned toy winds up, instead, in the arms of a crass, greedy collector (“Seinfeld”’s Wayne Knight, but you can call him Al.) Al steals Woody with the intention of selling him to the highest bidder, which turns out to be a Japanese museum. Woody learns about his own surprising past as the lead in a ‘50s kids show called “Woody’s Round-Up,” and also explores his deep ties to two new characters: Prospector Stinky Pete ( “Frasier” himself, Kelsey Grammer) and cow-girl Jessie (Joan Cusack, packing a real emotional wallop.)
Tracey: ‘Emotional wallop” is accurate, daddy! I can’t imagine many people who wouldn’t get shook, in the best way, by “Toy Story 2”’s heart-breaking highlight: the musical sequence set to Randy Newman’s aching “When She Loved Me.”
In less than 3 minutes, we see how Jessie and her owner, Emily, fell in love- and then fell apart. It’s just as effective and economic as the similar, much-cried-about sequence in Pixar’s subsequent “Up.” But “Toy Story 2” did it almost 15 years earlier, and nobody had to die! Not only that, but “When She Loved Me” may be the first song in a Disney movie to openly describe a same-sex relationship: as sung by Sarah Mclachlan, there’s no mistaking that this is about a woman being loved by a woman!
When somebody loved me
Everything was beautiful
Every hour spent together
Lives within my heart
And when she was sad
I was there to dry her tears
And when was happy so was I
When she loved me
Through the summer and the fall
We had each other that was all
Just she and I together
Like it was meant to be
And when she was lonely
I was there to comfort her
And I knew that she loved me
So the years went by
I stayed the same
But she began to drift away
I was left alone
Still I waited for the day
When she’d say I will always love you…
Excuse me, I can’t even deal, I need a moment to cry it out!
Hank: Awww, kiddo! I need a moment too. I think there’s something in my eye!
Grandpa Felicius: I KNOW there’s something in my eye, but the ophthalmologists say they can’t remove it without doing major damage to the cornea. As for this maudlin tune, it’s yet another embarrassment in the long list of embarrassing things that Randy Newman has done; maybe a real dame like Miss Peggy Lee might have been able to salvage it.
Cousin Franz: “Toy Story 2” is a sobering meditation on the Gospel of Mark, 8:36. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole word, and lose his soul?” But substitute “man” for “cowboy toy that looks like Lucky Luke,” and “gain the whole world” for “being put inside a case at a Tokyo Toy Museum,” and “lose his soul” for “lose his arm,” because that’s what happens to Woody’s arm. He loses it.
Trent: “Toy Story 2” is a severe disappointment, and it’s obvious why. NO SID! It’s like taking the batteries out of the whole thing. Sid is the raisin of ether that made the franchise work! Instead, we gotta spend time with some Cheeto-chomping nerd called Al “The Chicken Man”? And Tim Allen’s “Buzz Lightyear” light-weight side-story is just a bunch of lame references to “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” and “2001: Space Odyssey.” Pixar always pretends to be above that stuff, they leave it to the hacks who make “Shrek,” but there’s plenty of pop-culture pandering crap here! May the Force Live Long and Prosper in Your Bank Account, Brah!
Beatricia: I suppose “Toy Story 2” mainly surprised people by being the first animated movie sequel that didn’t abjectly suck. Well, aside from “The Care Bears Movie 2: A New Generation,” which will always occupy a colorful nook in my heart. I will never regret getting that Cheer Bear Belly-Badge Tattoo!
Blurbarella: “Don’t Worry About– Economic Damage. — Profit–Is a Severe Disappointment.”
4 out of 6 Cherries