‘Toy Story 2’ – back to the toy store on Disney+

Toy Story 2 (1999), the sequel to the computer animated hit about the secret lives of toys, is actually livelier and funnier than the original Toy Story, filled with clever pop culture in-jokes and spirited parodies for the grown-ups as it explores issues of identity and loyalty… among toys.

Tom Hanks is back as cowboy doll Woody, who turns out to be a rare collectible and is stolen by an unscrupulous collector. Tim Allen’s tricked-out rocket man Buzz Lightyear leads the mission to rescue him, an adventure that takes them back to their roots: the toy store!

The story is built around Woody discovering his legacy, and a new friend in Jessie (Joan Cusack), a rootin’, tootin’ cowgirl and a fellow vintage doll from the 1950s puppet show that made them TV stars and launched the toyline. But the filmmakers have the most fun with Buzz, now a mature, worldly toy who looks back on his past when he meets a new, factory-packaged, still blissfully ignorant edition of the Buzz Lightyear doll. His odyssey references everything from 2001 to Star Wars, complete with a fateful showdown with his evil nemesis who turns out to have a rather familiar family connection.

The animation of Pixar is a sight to behold but it’s the strong direction of John Lassiter and the tight, inventive script that makes it work, balancing strongly etched characters with a delightful sense of play.

Don Rickles voices Mr. Potato Head, Jim Varney is Slinky Dog, Wallace Shawn is the wimpy dinosaur doll Rex, John Ratzenberger is Hamm, and Annie Potts is Bo Peep in the returning toy box cast, joined by Kelsey Grammer as Stinky Pete the Prospector (who completes the vintage doll set) and Andrew Stanton (also the director of Pixar’s Wall-E and Finding Nemo) as Emperor Zurg.

It earned an Oscar nomination for Randy Newman’s original song “When She Loved Me” (which won a Grammy) and swept the Annie Awards, which is devoted to animated films.

Rated G

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Toy Story 2 [Blu-ray]
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Toy Story 4-Film Collection [Blu-ray]
Toy Story 4-Film Collection [DVD]

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The original two-disc set features commentary by director John Lasseter and his creative team, filmmaker interviews, a collection of featurettes, deleted scenes (in unfinished form), mock outtakes, the characters appearance on the Japanese children’s program Ponkickies 21, and other supplements.


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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