Sure, both Disney and Pixar had questions—should the sequel be computer animated, or outsourced to the cheaper hand animators then working on Disney’s TV shows and the other animated sequels?
Could Pixar get Tom Hanks, who had followed up his voice work in Toy Story with yet another Oscar nomination (his fourth) for his performance in Saving Private Ryan, for a direct-to-video sequel (most people thought no) or even Tim Allen, still extremely busy with the popular Home Improvement?
The Question Nobody Asked: What If The Sequel Turned Out To Be, Well, Good?
Some of these questions were immediately answered by Steve Jobs, who took a look at a few of Pixar’s balance sheets and, after agreeing with analysts that the CD-ROM game based on Toy Story would not generate as much money as a cheap direct-to-video sequel, shut down the game development and moved all of its team over to Toy Story 2.
That ensured that the sequel would, like the original, be entirely computer animated. And by March 1997, to everyone’s relief, both Tim Allen and Tom Hanks had agreed to sign on for the sequel, although original producer Ralph Guggenheim soon took off (reportedly at Disney’s request) for Electronic Arts.
The decision to turn Toy Story 2 into a theatrical release also meant that Pixar had to add another twelve to fifteen minutes to the finished film.
That is why if you were wondering, Toy Story 2 opens with a scene showing a Buzz Lightyear video game—it was an easy way to add a couple more minutes to the opening and a few more lines and jokes that could be inserted later on. The final chase scene was extended, and Lasseter and the other story contributors and screenwriters added additional jokes and scenes.
Toy Story 2 Does Need A Few Scenes To Get Its Pacing Together.
It opens on a scene of Buzz Lightyear heading to take out Emperor Zurg, in a setup for a subplot and later major gag midway through the film, then spends a few moments introducing us again to all of Andy’s toys plus one new addition: Mrs. Potato Head, briefly introduced via dialogue in the previous film, but speaking in this film for the first time.
Woody is preparing for a major trip to Cowboy Camp, where finally he will have Quality Time with Andy. I’m not entirely sure why Woody is looking forward to this: Andy seems like the kinda kid who is kinda rough on his toys.
We’ve seen plenty of scenes where Andy throws Woody around and knocks him against things, and that’s even forgetting about the last film, where it seemed that Buzz was about to replace Woody in Andy’s affections. Plus, Woody being Woody, he’s worried—very worried—about what will happen to the rest of the considerably less responsible toys while he’s gone. On the other hand, it’s his chance to have something he desperately wants: time alone with Andy.
This is not actually the sad part.
What Happens To Woody And Jessie And Stinky Pete Feels Real Because It Is Real: The Feeling Of Getting Hurt, The Feeling Of Being Replaced, The Feeling Of Losing A Friend.
Toy Story 2 also asks questions about loyalty, responsibility, and sacrifice. If Woody returns to Andy and his friends, he dooms the Woody’s Roundup toys to a life locked inside dark boxes. (Or so everyone claims. Watching it now, I couldn’t help but notice that not one toy suggested that just maybe they should try to look for another Woody.
Sure, Al claimed that he’d spent years looking for a Woody without finding one, but as it turns out, Al thinks that just driving across a street is a major commute, so maybe we shouldn’t be taking Al’s word here, toys! You just saw how many Buzz Lightyears a manufacturer can make! Go find Woody!) On the other hand, staying with Woody’s Roundup toys means leaving his friends—and losing his last years with Andy.
Toy Story 2 cleverly intercuts the angst ridden scenes of abandonment and fear with something much more fun: scenes of toys trying to cross a road and navigate a toy store.
It’s difficult to choose any single highlight here, between Barbie’s expert mimicking of a Disney ride (in English and Spanish!); Rex finally figuring out how to win the Buzz Lightyear video game; Buzz Lightyear confronting an entire aisle of identical Buzz Lightyears, in one of the greatest images from the film; the toys failing to realize that they’ve been joined by a different Buzz Lightyear; or the emergence of Zurg, followed by a joke that, in the unlikely event that you haven’t seen Toy Story 2 yet, I won’t spoil.
Still missing, however: girl power. Toy Story 2 does improve on the original here somewhat, by adding Mrs. Potato Head, Barbie, and Jessie to the very slim list of female characters from the first film—Andy’s mother, Bo Peep, and Sid’s younger sister (absent in this film). Jessie, in particular, gets significant attention, and arguably the single most emotional—well, at least, the single most sniffly—scene in the film.
Well, a touch of misogyny would hardly be Stinky Pete’s worst trait, and he really did want that life in a museum. It’s perhaps not all that surprising that he’s howling at that loss.
Toy Story 2 was an enormous success, pulling in $497.4 million worldwide at the box office, at the time behind only The Lion King as the most successful animated film of all time. Critics were also delighted, turning Toy Story 2 into one of the few films on Rotten Tomatoes with a 100% approval rating, something that as of this writing has been achieved by only two other animated films: the 1940 Pinocchio and the 1995 Toy Story.