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|May 22, 2000||
The sequel is better
Toys were a part of growing up. It really didn't matter if our favourite toy was a teddy bear, a He-man, a cowboy which looked like a million bucks or a Raggedy-Ann doll -- we loved it all the same. We gave it life, showered it with our love, shared our dreams as we travelled into kid wonderland.
Until we grew up. And thought we didn't need toys anymore. We found better things to do with our time, which didn't leave us any to devote to our old companions.
Hollywood, however, is most concerned about our toy friends and, every now and then, manages to dish out a genuinely heartwarming film. Pixar Films' Toy Story was one such landmark -- for the quality of its animation, the actors who are the voices, the way it tugs at your heart because of the humanness of the characters.
Toy Story 2 is one of the few films which actually betters the original, not only technically, but also in the storytelling. The original, thanks to its novelty, was great fun to watch. The sequel, while retaining the technical finesse of its predecessor, manages to gain ground with a much more heartwarming plot.
The prequel was about Woody, the cowboy (voice: Tom Hanks), rescuing Buzz Lightyear (voice: Tim Allen) from the bully next door. This time around, it's Woody who is stolen -- by a doll collector who plans to sell the entire cowboy collection to a Japanese buyer.
Woody learns he was once a television celebrity -- part of a performing doll troupe that included Jessie (voice: Joan Cusack), a cowgirl, a horse named Bullseye and Stinky Pete the Prospector (voice: Kelsey Grammar). Woody longs to return to his child-owner Andy, but his newfound family won't allow him. They feel they have a chance to regain their lost glory if they stick together. If Woody were to leave, they'd all become worthless pieces of junk.
This is where the film takes off. And you can join the fun as Buzz, Rex (voice: Wallace Shawn), Hamm (voice: John Ratzenberger), Mr Potatohead (voice: Don Rickles) and Slinky (voice: Jim Varney) battle busy streets and Buzz lookalikes in their heroic effort to rescue Woody.
The theme is not just about friendship, but about being wanted. It examines the relationship of every match stick that is created to burn brightly for a second before it turns to ashes.
Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2has some great moments. For the purely visual, it would have to be the opening sequence which has Buzz flying around the galaxy, ready to do battle with his Darth Vader-like nemesis, Zurg. It's a dazzling beginning, with ever-changing camera angles and intricately rendered details. Equally impressive are the scene where the toys attempt a "safe" crossing of a busy street (using red cones) and Buzz's visit to the Buzz Lightyear aisle in a Toys 'R' Us store.
Parodies are kept to a minimum, though there is a funny takeoff on a key element of the Star Wars series and a quick, throwaway moment from Jurassic Park. The movie also pokes fun at its own merchandising, even going so far as to offer a blueprint for a possible Toy Story video game.
Toy Story 2 belongs to that universal genre of films which transcend geographic boundaries. And, if box office figures abroad are anything to go by, the film is all set for a great Indian summer.
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