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"Toy Story 2"

Directed by John Lasseter.
Written by Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Doug Chamberlin and Chris Webb.
Starring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.
Release Year:  1999 

Review Date:  11/30/99 

Folks-- 

Because this review is mainly for my kid sisters, Cate and Sydney, there will be no profanity in this review...but, for "Opening Weekend" reviews, I don't need to curse anyway.

That's right--this movie is the first Opening Weekend-rated movie of the fall for me.  Wow, wow, wow.  Even though this movie made more than $80 million in its first five days of business from a large 12-and-under fan base, this is a mature, very adult, very sophisticated drama at many points during its quick-like-rabbit 85 minutes.  The evidence?  I heard more adults laughing during many of its scenes than children, although there is enough wackiness to keep the kiddies in line.

The main plot of this movie, like its predecessor "Toy Story", involves two main characters, Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) who are the most popular toys of their owner, a young boy named Andy.  In the sequel, Woody is snatched by a dirty toy collector (Wayne Knight, Newman from “Seinfeld” for easier reference--no one does this type of character better) who plans on selling Woody to a Tokyo-based toy collector.  It's up to Buzz and Andy's other toys, amongst them Mr. Potato Head, the Slinky Dog, Tyrannosaurus and the piggy bank, to get Woody back.

The one thing that I loved about the first movie was how human the filmmakers made the toys seem in describing their situation as playthings for children.  This is much expanded upon in the sequel, and there is a sequence that--and, I'm about to say this in front of a lot of people, so bear with me--had me a little emotional

DID YOU CRY, YOU LITTLE...

No!  I didn't cry; I was just getting a little emotional

YOU CRIED, DIDN'T YOU??  SAY IT!  SAY IT!

Look, I'm not gonna take this from you!  I didn't cry!  The point is that there is a sequence where one of the new characters, Jessie (like Woody, a toy based on a cancelled 50's western show) is describing how her owner, a child named Emily, just left her one day and moved on to other things in her life (shown to the audience as talking on the phone, doing her nails, etc.) and you just feel for these toys like they were your best friends!  All I could think about was my Optimus Prime (for you real losers, the red semi from the Transformers!) toy, sitting in a box somewhere with my Snake Eyes, Scarlet, and Duke GI Joes, and, and my brother Dave's Cabbage Patch Kid and all of the other things that I took with me whenever I went away to camp, or grade school, or church...totally inseparable...until I bought the Atari 5200.

Then, there was only video games.

But, the toys were still in good shape and I never played with them.  And that one scene is just so genius, so spot-on, that it sums up everything about the dramatic elements of this movie.  Sure, all of the voices in this movie are very good, the computer-animated characters are gorgeous, the script is full of witty pop references and sly dialogue to keep parents awake during the more childish sequences.  The first five minutes of the movie, when Buzz takes on the evil Zurg in Sector 4 of Buzz's fake universe, was really cool.  Everything about this movie is good...but, this is the rare sequel that actual improves on the original and I think the main reason for that is how far the film goes to describe to us what a toy might feel like if it really does have emotions.  I don't know if kids will pick up on all of this--then again, most 10-year-olds I know can program their own web pages--but, maybe this isn't just meant for kids, it's meant for everybody.

This isn't my favorite movie of the year (if you, by some act of GOD, have still not seen "The Matrix", let me know so that I can take you off of this mailing list), but it is the best.

DUDE, YOU WERE CRYING, WEREN'T YOU?

Oh man.  Anyway, I gotta go find my Megatron Transformer (for those who aren't in the know, the leader of the Decepticons) before I lose this great vibe.

Rating:  Opening Weekend

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09