This sequel to ‘Toy Story’ sees pull-string cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) kidnapped by toy collector Al, who plans to sell him to a Japanese toy museum. Assisted by Mr Potato Head, Slinky Dog and Rex the Dinosaur, action figure Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) sets off to the rescue, but when they get to Al’s store Buzz is mistakenly boxed up and his place taken by a new, flashier Lightyear model – complete with utility belt! Meanwhile, Woody has discovered that he was once the star of a popular children’s television show, and is no longer sure he wants to return to Andy’s toy cupboard.John Lasseter and his gang of high-tech creators at Pixar create another entertainment for the ages. Like the handful of other great movie sequels, Toy Story 2 comments on why the first one was so wonderful while finding a fresh angle worthy of a new film. The craze of toy collecting becomes the focus here, as we find out Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) is not only a beloved toy to Andy but also a rare doll from a popular 60s children’s show. When a greedy collector takes Woody, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) launches a rescue mission with Andy’s other toys. To say more would be a crime because this is one of the most creative and smile-inducing films since, well, Toy Story. Although the toys look the same as in the 1994 feature, Pixar shows how much technology has advanced: the human characters look more human, backgrounds are superior, and two action sequences that book-end the film are dazzling. And it’s a hoot for kids and adults. The film is packed with spoofs, easily accessible in-jokes and inspired voice casting (with newcomer Joan Cusack especially a delight as Cowgirl Jessie). But as the Pixar canon of films illustrates, the filmmakers are storytellers first. Woody’s heart-tugging predicament can easily be translated into the eternal debate of living a good life versus living for forever. Toy Story 2 was deservedly a huge box-office success. —Doug Thomas, Amazon.com

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