Toy Story 2

USA 1999, 92 mins
Director: John Lasseter

Although a triumph of cutting-edge technology, demonstrating fully the possibilities of computer animation, Toy Story has become such a much-loved film because of its profound, almost old-fashioned humanity. Woody, Buzz and the toy gang, down to the merest walk-on sight gag, are alive in the way all great cartoon creatures are alive (in no small part thanks to canny voice casting that exactly matches the character design). Like this sequel, the first film has an extremely sophisticated, surprisingly melancholy understanding of the importance, resonance and tragically brief shelf-life of the average plaything.

The follow-up may be inevitably less fresh and misses the freakish presence of Sid’s mutant toys (the three-eyed grabmachine aliens from the first film, however, have a nice cameo), but it makes a few minor, effective upgrades. Randy Newman’s musical numbers, for example, are integrated so as to serve the plot points. Toy Story 2 focuses even more tightly than the first film on the plight of creatures who are only ‘alive’ so long as they can retain the attention of their quixotic owners. Their in-built obsolescence is ultimately as poignant as the tiny lifespans of the Blade Runner replicants.

So while the plot sets up Woody’s rescue from the loathsome Al, affording the opportunity for all manner of extravagant action scenes – a roadcrossing set-piece, with the toys hiding under traffic cones and achieving their end while causing human-level chaos they don’t notice, and a splendid, protracted peril ride through the airport at the finale – the script takes care to show the downside of toy life. Jessie, for instance, sings about the loss of her owner’s love, signified by the junking of cowgirl ephemera in favour of make-up and pop records. The toy villain, one of those sad but valuable items who remains pristine in his original 50s box, yearns for a life in a museum, but Woody and the film finally recognise that toys have no real value, no life, unless they are played with.

Of course, any film with this message that comes (albeit at one remove) from Walt Disney and with an attendant merchandising blitz, has to cope with an ironic bite. Those in the know, especially exasperated parents, will love the cynical gags about the toy business: Rex the dinosaur discovers a Buzz Lightyear video game can’t be won without the purchase of a tie-in manual; in the store Tour Guide Barbie explains an aisle-load of Buzz figures by noting that ‘in 1995, shortsighted retailers understocked.’ Barbie’s licensees refused to allow her to appear in the original, which means she comes in for some hilarious joshing here and generally comes off as an airhead next to the spunkier Bo Peep and Jessie.

Al, the discount-toy entrepreneur, comes in for a lot of criticism, but the film takes advantage of his obsessions to fill in the backgrounds of its own inventions. Video games and the Star Wars franchise are parodied as the film delves into the relationship between Buzz and Zurg, while it also perfectly evokes the ramshackle charm represented by Howdy Doody in the US and Muffin the Mule here – of vintage 50s puppet television, with an attendant panoply of lunch-boxes, toy gramophones, cereal promotions (‘Cowboy Crunchies’) and snake-in-the-boot jack-in-the-boxes. Like The Iron Giant, the film revisits the 50s for much of its inspiration, rediscovering in the era the dawn of marketing. But a full measure of Toy Story 2’s success can be gauged by its undeniable appeal for children who have never seen a Western television show or played with a cowboy toy.
Kim Newman, Sight and Sound, March 2000

Against the usual run of things, Toy Story 2 is generally considered even better than the first; audiences have seemed to agree with Variety magazine’s judgement: ‘This sequel is more than equal.’

The Toy Story story began in 1991 when Pixar founder John Lasseter pitched to Disney the idea of something which had never been done before: a full-length movie animated by CGI (computer-generated imagery). The core of his narrative idea was a single image: a toy left behind at a motorway rest-stop, its owner unwittingly leaving without it. Four years later this had evolved into the now-familiar tale of rival toys, Buzz and Woody, vying for the affections of their owner.

The follow-up likewise began with one single image in Lasseter’s mind: ‘I love toys. My toys are collectibles, and I keep them in my office. When my kids come to visit me at work and play with my toys, I just go nuts, I’m so anxiety-ridden. Then I started thinking to myself: because a toy is old, expensive and collectible, it’s meant to sit on a shelf and never be played with again – but what kind of life is that for a toy? What if Woody is a rare collectible and is found by a toy collector?’

Ironically this follow-up was not originally intended to be seen in cinemas, but was destined for a straight-to-video release. Only when Disney executives saw a rough cut in October 1997 did they reverse their low expectations and agree to spend up to $100 million turning it into a feature and giving it heavy promotional support.

This change of status involved pumping up the running time from an hour to 75 minutes, adding new characters and rewriting the story. Major new characters were inserted even at this late stage: one was Wheezy, a cast-off squeezy penguin who’s lost his squeak; another was The Cleaner, a toy restorer who gives Woody a spit-and-polish; a third is Buster, a dog.

In addition to these, there’s a new leading female character, Jessie, the cowgirl from Woody’s 1950s TV series. She was created partly in response to the criticism that in Toy Story the only significant female character, Bo-Peep, is insipid and passive. Lasseter says: ‘When we started developing the sequel, there was a desire to have stronger female characters. We’re very proud of Jessie. On the one hand she’s gregarious and energetic, but on the other there’s a deep emotional quality to her so that, even though there’s not a lot of animation going on, there’s some really sweet acting.’

On the question of whether his films are Disney films, Lasseter’s response is: ‘We make movies for ourselves, the kind of movies that we want to see. And the movies I am most affected by are the ones that make me laugh hysterically, but also move me. I’m not ashamed to cry in movies. It’s a classic Disney tradition and we’ve adapted it to this new medium.’
Terry Staples

Director: John Lasseter
USA 1988
5 mins

Director: John Lasseter
USA 1989
4 mins

Director: John Lasseter
Co-directors: Lee Unkrich, Ash Brannon
©: Inc. Disney Enterprises, Pixar Animation Studios
Presented by: Walt Disney Pictures
Executive Producer: Sarah Mcarthur
Executive Producer: Steven Jobs [uncredited]
Producers: Helene Plotkin, Karen Robert Jackson
Production Manager: Graham Walters
Director of Computer Operations: Greg Brandeau
Post-production Supervisor: Paul Cichocki
Casting: Ruth Lambert, Mary Hidalgo
Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Doug Chamberlin, Chris Webb
Original Story: John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Ash Brannon, Andrew Stanton
Story Supervisors: Dan Jeup, Joe Ranft
Story Artists: Jim Capobianco, David Fulp, Matthew Luhn, Ken Mitchroney, Max Brace, Jill Culton, Rob Gibbs, Jason Katz, Bud Luckey, Ricky Nierva, Sanjay Patel, Bob Peterson, Jeff Pidgeon, Jan Pinkava, Bobby Podesta, Nathan Stanton, Mark A. Walsh
Story Department Managers: Renee Jensen, Susan E. Levin
Director of Photography: Sharon Calahan
Camera Department Manager: Perrin Cutting
Camera Supervisor: Louis Rivera
Lighting Supervisor: Jean-Claude Kalache
Modelling Supervisor: Eben Ostby
Supervising Animator: Glenn McQueen
Directing Animator: Kyle Balda, Dylan Brown
Animation Department Co-ordinator: David Orecklin
Animation Managers: Jenny Head, Kori Rae
Fix Animator: Paul Mendoza, Andrea Schultz
Rendering Supervisor: Don Schreiter
Effects Department Manager: Kelly T. Peters
Layout Supervisors: Rikki Cleland-Hura, Ewan Johnson
Senior Layout Artist: Craig Good
Editors: Edie Bleiman, David Ian Salter, Lee Unkrich
Second Editor: Robert Grahamjones
Additional Editing: James Austin Stewart, Ken Schretzmann, Richard Halsey, Mildred Iatrou
Production Designer: William Cone, Jim Pearson
Shading Supervisor: Brad West
Art Director - Shading: Bryn Imagire
Set Dressing Supervisor: David Eisenmann
Title Design: Susan Bradley
Optical Titles: Buena Vista Imaging
Music: Randy Newman
Orchestrations: Jonathan Sacks, Ira Hearshen, Randy Newman
Additional Arrangements: Bruno Coon
Sound Design: Gary Rydstrom
Sound Supervisors: Gary Rydstrom, Tom Myers
Additional Dialogue Recording: Bob Baron, Bill Higley, John Mcgleenan, Brian Reed
Re-recording Mixers: Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers
Original Dialogue Mixer: Doc Kane
Re-recordist: Ronald G. Roumas
Supervising Sound Editor: Michael Silvers
Sound Effects Editors: Teresa Eckton, Shannon Mills

Voice cast
Tom Hanks (Woody)
Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear)
Joan Cusack (Jessie)
Kelsey Grammer (Stinky Pete the Prospector)
Don Rickles (Mr Potato Head)
Jim Varney (Slinky Dog)
Wallace Shawn (Rex)
John Ratzenberger (Hamm)
Annie Potts (Bo Peep)
Wayne Knight (Al McWhiggin)
John Morris (Andy)
Laurie Metcalf (Andy’s mom)
Estelle Harris (Mrs Potato Head)
R. Lee Ermey (Sarge)
Jodi Benson (Barbie)
Jonathan Harris (The Cleaner)
Joe Ranft (Wheezy)
Andrew Stanton (Emperor Zurg)
Jeff Pidgeon (aliens)
Jack Angel, Bob Bergen, Mary Kay Bergman, Sheryl Bernstein, Rodger Bumpass, Corey Burton, Rachel Davey, Debi Derryberry, Jessica Evans,
Bill Farmer, Pat Fraley, Jess Harnell, John Lasseter, Nicolette Little, Sherry Lynn, Mickie McGowan, Jeff Pidgeon, Phil Proctor, Jan Rabson, Carly Schroeder, Madylin Sweeten, Hannah Unkrich, Lee Unkrich (additional voices)
Andi Peters (additional voice of baggage handler)

USA 1999
92 mins
Toy Story + The Adventures of Andre & Wally B. + Luxo Jr. + Red’s Dream
Sun 23 Jul 12:50; Sat 29 Jul 16:00
Tangled + Tangled ever After
Sun 23 Jul 13:10
Toy Story 2 + Tin Toy + Knick Knack
Sun 23 Jul 15:30
Pocahontas + Lava
Sun 23 Jul 15:40; Fri 28 Jul 14:20; Sat 29 Jul 20:40
Dinosaur + Get a Horse!
Sun 23 Jul 18:15
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs + Thru the Mirror
Mon 24 Jul 14:20
Beauty and the Beast + Tick Tock Tale
Mon 24 Jul 18:05; Thu 27 Jul 14:20
UK premiere of 4K Restoration: Cinderella + Trailer Horn
Tue 25 Jul 14:20
Sleeping Beauty + Magician Mickey
Wed 26 Jul 14:20
Hocus Pocus
Wed 26 Jul 20:40
Fantasia + Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom
Thu 27 Jul 17:50
TRON: Legacy + Sanjay’s Super Team
Fri 28 Jul 20:20
Sat 29 Jul 12:30
Moana + Inner Workings
Sat 29 Jul 13:00; Mon 31 Jul 14:20
Fantasia 2000
Sun 30 Jul 10:30
Frozen + Frozen Fever
Sun 30 Jul 12:40
Finding Nemo
Tue 1 Aug 14:20; Sun 13 Aug 18:30; Sun 27 Aug 13:30
Wed 2 Aug 14:20; Mon 14 Aug 20:30; Sun 27 Aug 13:15
Turning Red
Wed 2 Aug 20:20; Tue 8 Aug 14:20; Sat 26 Aug 15:30
The Jungle Book
Thu 3 Aug 14:20; Sun 6 Aug 13:00; Wed 16 Aug 20:45; Wed 30 Aug 14:20
Thu 3 Aug 18:00; Sat 19 Aug 17:30
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Fri 4 Aug 18:00; Sun 13 Aug 18:10; Tue 22 Aug 14:20; Wed 23 Aug 20:20
101 Dalmatians
Sat 5 Aug 13:20; Thu 10 Aug 14:20; Sat 19 Aug 15:30; Tue 29 Aug 14:20
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Sat 5 Aug 15:40; Thu 17 Aug 14:20; Sun 27 Aug 18:20
Sister Act
Sat 5 Aug 20:40; Fri 18 Aug 18:20
Zootropolis (aka Zootopia)
Sun 6 Aug 13:10; Fri 25 Aug 18:00
Silent Cinema: Disney’s Silent Shorts + intro
Sun 6 Aug 15:30
Freaky Friday
Sun 6 Aug 18:20; Fri 18 Aug 20:30; Thu 24 Aug 20:50
The Parent Trap
Mon 7 Aug 18:00; Sun 20 Aug 15:10
Wed 9 Aug 14:20; Sat 12 Aug 11:30 (+ extended intro); Mon 14 Aug 14:20; Sun 20 Aug 19:00
Mary Poppins
Wed 9 Aug 17:50; Mon 21 Aug 14:20; Mon 28 Aug 13:00
Wed 9 Aug 20:30; Mon 28 Aug 12:30
The Love Bug
Fri 11 Aug 20:30; Sat 12 Aug 11:50; Sun 20 Aug 13:30
A Disney Day for Young Audiences
Sat 12 Aug 11:30-16:30
Sat 12 Aug 18:00; Sat 26 Aug 12:00
Sat 12 Aug 20:30; Sat 19 Aug 13:00; Thu 24 Aug 14:20
The Lion King
Sun 13 Aug 13:00 (+ Funday Sing-along); Sat 26 Aug 20:30; Thu 31 Aug 14:20
The Fiendishly Difficult Disney Quiz
Sun 13 Aug 15:30 Blue Room
Sun 13 Aug 15:50; Wed 16 Aug 14:20; Sat 26 Aug 12:20; Mon 28 Aug 16:20
The Rescuers
Mon 14 Aug 18:30; Sat 19 Aug 15:50
Sat 19 Aug 12:00; Tue 29 Aug 20:30
Dick Tracy
Fri 25 Aug 20:40; Tue 29 Aug 18:10
(+ intro by Ben Roberts, BFI CEO)
The Little Mermaid
Sun 27 Aug 16:00; Mon 28 Aug 16:40

With thanks to The Walt Disney Company

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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
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