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Toy Story 2: Collector's Edition

While 1995's Toy Story will be recorded in posterity for reinventing the kid-friendly animated feature with its breakthrough digital technology and ambitious non-musical narrative, its 1999 follow-up, Toy Story 2, without any pressing historical milestones to surpass, will have to settle for being one of just a handful of sequels superior to a great predecessor. Whereas most sequels tend to lazily reshuffle popular set-pieces from earlier in their series, Toy Story 2 manages to honor the original's memorable scenes, while also revealing more of the already richly developed secret world of toys. The first Toy Story explored the importance of being a toy, as old cowboy doll Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) struggled to adjust to playtime competition from a new-fangled, thick-skulled action figure, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), who believed he was an authentic space ranger. The sequel's further exploration of the fictional psychology of toys makes the first movie's clever and charming adventure seem simply superficial. Toy Story 2 picks up with Woody facing an existential nightmare when a small tear in his arm stitching lands him on a shelf with other broken toys, provoking fears that his vital days as a cherished plaything are coming to an end. When Woody attempts to rescue a discarded toy from a yard sale, he catches the eye of Al (Wayne Knight), a giddy toy expert anxious to complete and sell a rare collection to which Woody is the missing piece. Al steals Woody, but his crime it witnessed by the other toys, and Buzz, the piggy bank Hamm (John Ratzenberger), the timid dinosaur Rex (Wallace Shawn), Slinky Dog (Jim Varney), and Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) venture out of Andy's room and into the real world to save Woody from his toynapper. Meanwhile, Woody is greeted like a messiah by the other toys in Al's collection of merchandising from a short-lived TV series called "Woody's Round-up," which provides revelatory context to the awestruck Woody. Traumatized Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl (Joan Cusack) rejoices that she may finally be released from the darkness of storage, and the still-boxed Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammer) promises the uncertain Woody that his only long-term career option is as a museum artifact. Those who marveled at the sophistication of the first Toy Story's plot relative to other animated features will be dazzled by the profound emotional depth and intelligence in Toy Story 2, which is once again packaged with so much wit and detail that one suspects it was secretly written and directed by real toys using the human crew at Pixar as a creative beard. Woody's rescue party's adventure in a toy store is marvelously inventive — including a go-gorific Barbie Beach House party and Buzz coming face-to-face with shelves of packaged Space Rangers waiting for a mission — and Jessie's tale of forsaken toyhood, accompanied by Sarah McLachlan's "When Somebody Loves You," is heartbreaking. While the digital animation format is no longer pioneering, advances since the first movie result in some terrific additional textures.

Toy Story 2 is presented by Disney/Buena Vista in a two-disc Special Edition, with the feature presented in a pristine anamorphic transfer (1.77:1) with audio in both DTS 5.1 Digital Surround ES and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX. The feature is accompanied by a short introduction from director John Lasseter and a fun and informative commentary by Lasseter, co-directors Ash Brannon and Lee Unkrich, and co-writer Andrew Stanton. On the second disc is a five-minute reel of fake outtakes, a brief "Who's the Coolest Toy" discussion, the "Which Toy Are You?" quiz game (which is unlikely to engage children), a strange bit from Japanese television, a musical medley from the Riders in the Sky, a stills gallery, a short "Making Toy Story 2" featurette, two unexceptional deleted/alternate scenes, plus a full slate of "behind-the-scenes" materials including a profile of Lasseter, galleries, "3-D turnarounds," story pitches, in-depth production coverage, music videos and sound mixing, and trailers and TV spots. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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