The mad geniuses of Pixar bring us another installment of the saga of Woody and Buzz Lightyear and their toyshelf compatriots. Toy Story 2 serves up a thick undercurrent of identity and mortality, and such grown up ideas as making a choice between resignation in the face of inevitable defeat or taking it to the limit before smashing into the wall of oblivion.I mean, outside of the whole "wow, its all computers, this is so next-generation", Toy Story 2 is a good story. The Pixar folks didn't need to keep reminding us that TS2 is a story-driven movie. But in case anyone walked in the theatre thinking this film was about big stars like Woody the Cowboy, or Buzz Lightyear its better they know up front that the characters are there to support the telling of the story, not to be the point. The plot is nice and succint. Woody gets hauled off to toy collector hell and his friends have to descend into the underworld to rescue him. However, when he gets there, he finds out who he really is and how his worth changes depending on where you are standing. He is like the fairy child who finds his true family but has become so important to his adopted family that he simply can not leave one for the other.
Woody gets stuck in a moral dilemma of save himself or save others. It would be great if everyone could get what they want and in the case of toys, what they want, what they need, is to be recognized and played with and loved. Else they are just an object with no meaning and no point. Its like so many people's lives ... (big moment of revelation).
Buzz Lightyear has come a long way from taking himself so seriously and being ignorant of his true nature. He has actually come around to being a self-aware toy who operates inside his own personality and not the canned Buzz Lightyear personality. Who knew that a thousand toys pressed in exactly the same way could individuate and step outside of the scripted boundaries of their intended lives. This is just like ... (big moment of revelation).
But enough of what the movie means. The only part I had trouble swallowing was the musical interlude performed by Sarah McLachlan. Jessie the Cowgirl reminisces about when she was loved and what it meant to be a wanted toy. Fantastic imagery that tells a story of its own about growing up but the song was just so incredibly hokey. Not what you would expect from Sarah McLachlan. But then again, maybe she's decided that writing shmaltzy movie tunes is better than the otherwise emotional and probing lyricism of her earlier recordings. I know that if I see the movie again and I probably will, it will grow on me and I will go from tolerant to accepting to even perhaps appreciating its role in the movie but I'm still a little put off by the jarring experience to be forgiving.
The surprise guest appearance by the old man from the award winning Pixar short about the Chess Player as the Toy Restorer was sufficient payment for the infraction and I left the theatre happy but confused.Another winner from Pixar. Too much phony hype for a film that is wonderful on its own.