My opinion right after watching film
My opinion right after watching the film is that I enjoyed it a lot more than I enjoyed the first one. A lot more happens, it wasn’t as predictable, more action-packed, and better to look at. You can tell that the company was starting to get their footing and were more confident, which I could not really say for their past two efforts. Despite popular belief, I do not think this sequel was necessary, but it was hinted at with how the first film ended.
There was discussion for a sequel to Toy Story a month after it was released in the fall of 1995, where Lasseter saw a boy rush in excitement to show his father the Woody doll he possessed. The crew went to Joe Roth (who replaced just ousted Katzenberg as chairman of Walt Disney Studios), who approved, and wanted to give it to Disneytoons, since the Aladdin sequels were so successful. At first, Pixar did not mind this, since they were busy with A Bug’s Life, and the beginning stages of Monsters, Inc.
His wife pressured him to add a strong female character to the film who had more substance than Bo Peep, which explains the creation of Jessie. The plot around the film was inspired by Lasseter collecting a lot of toys for display, which his sons would want to play with, but were not allowed. It alluded to the question of “how would a toy feel if it was not played with?” The story was generally coming together by early 1997, but a lot of staff was working on A Bug’s Life, and there was still a lot of uncertainty about the project.
The production troubles increased in 1997, where Disney demanded that the producer be replaced, and after seeing some story reels, they demanded that the film be released in theaters. This would not be a part of the 5 film contract that was made earlier (which did not include sequels). The big change was announced on February 5th, 1998, and a lot of the work was almost lost when an animator was cleaning some files, and accidentally started a deletion root folder, where a lot of the reels went missing. Luckily a tech director named Galyn Susman had backups on her home computer.
While A Bug’s Life was going through its promotion, Lasseter was not thrilled with the state of the film, and the company as a whole told Disney that the film needs to be redone, and the release date needs to be pushed back, which was rejected. Pixar took it upon themselves to redo the film before the release date of fall 1999.
The film starts with Rex (Wallace Shawn) playing a Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) game, while Woody (Tom Hanks) freaks about about not having his hat, as Andy (John Morris) is taking him to cowboy camp in a few minutes. Bo Peep (Annie Potts) cheers him up by telling him Andy will take him without the hat, and Slinky Dog (Jim Varney) found the hat. His arm rips when Andy takes him, so he refuses to take him. Everyone is shocked that Woody has been shelved (which to them, means he is on death’s payroll).
Woody is taken to Al’s apartment, where he meets the cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack), his supposed horse Bullseye, and Stinky Pete (Kelsey Grammer). They tell and show Woody about his legacy, learning that he came from a 1950s show, where cowboys were the trend, that ended up being replaced by space rangers, making them out of style. Meanwhile, the other toys look at the commercial, realizing that Al is the chicken man, and took note of the address of his shop. Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Slinky, Rex, Hamm (John Ratzenberegr) and Buzz take off, while of course the women Bo Peep and Mrs. Potato Head (Estelle Harris) are left behind. Very progressive.
Stinky Pete and Jessie tell him that they are all being sold to a museum in Tokyo, and they are only interested if the entire ensemble are together. Of course Woody tells them that he cannot help them, and Jessie yells at him for being selfish, and how she refuses to be in the storage again, which is where they all have been for decades.
Al returns to his shop, and prints a picture of Woody, which the other toys see. All of them, (and the two Buzzes) follow Al to his apartment across the street, and when they finally get there, some stuff ends up going down, and our so-called-villain is revealed.
Slinky Pete locks the vent to where the other toys are, after they convince Woody to go back to Andy. He manages to convince Jessie and Bullseye to come back, but Slinky Pete is sick of being on the stock where every other toy gets chosen over him; rejected, and unloved. Being with a child temporarily will lead to the toys rotten afterwards for all eternity. I actually understand his reasoning, and it is easy to sympathize with it, but of course it is the execution of it that matters. There is a sub-plot with the second Buzz that I do not care to recap, so we are skipping it. I realize I have been calling him Slinky instead of Stinky, but I am a snarky guy, and I like Slinky better anyways. After they end up in the airport, and the suitcases are shipped, which leads to Slinky being transported to another backpack, which belongs to a little girl. After Jessie is stuck in the suitcase, and taken onto the plane, they manage to rescue her.
In the epilogue, Andy comes back from camp in a great mood, liking his new toys. Buzz attempts to hit on Jessie, Hamm and Rex see Al crying desperately in his new commercial, Bo Peep caresses Woody’s buffer arm, Wheezy got another squeaker, and the Potato Heads adopt the aliens from the first film. The film ends with Wheezy singing a jazzy version of “You’ve Got A Friend in Me.”
While there was not much in the character development department, we got to see more characters, and for a longer period of time. It was interesting to see how certain characters react to the inevitable dilemma, which was never addressed or even discussed in the first film.
Despite the humans looking a bit weird still, almost everything has improved. The textures have become clearer, blockiness is pretty much gone, character designs are more creative and distinct, colors are more bold and even the movements on the characters have improved. They have also really improved on the lighting, which was somewhat an issue in the first film.
I have to note that the music barely stood out in this film, especially if you compare it to the earlier films. Sure, the one song is nice and melodic, but the score is what you would expect, without anything really memorable about it. I guess I was expecting a bit more.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on November 24th, 1999, it domestically made $245.9 million, and $251.5 million elsewhere, leading to an international amount of $497.4 million overall. It is the highest-grossing animated film of 1999, beat both of Pixar’s predecessors by a large amount, and was at the time, the second highest-grossing animated film, behind The Lion King.
It was critically praised, which quickly became the normal for Pixar. Many claimed it to be one of the best sequels of all time, and a lot considered it to be better than the original film. The film won countless awards, which includes 7 Annies.
Many people see this as one of the best sequels to ever exist, and many debate as to whether this is one of the better Pixar films. This film is often credited for making Pixar into a large corporation, and not a one-time fluke. It garnered another sequel that is already released, and one that is currently in production. It made animated sequels acceptable to be released in theaters, which as of today, is too common of a trend, since many make POOR animated sequels for cheap cash grabs.
= 32.5/40 = 81%