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“For Infinity… and Beyond…”: In Praise of “Toy Story 2” as the Perfect Sequel…

Ranking films is often a fool’s errand.

I make this argument with no small amount of hypocrisy. Most obviously, I co-host a weekly podcast called The 250, which is dedicated to exploring the Internet Movie Database’s Top 250 Movies of All-Time. Even beyond that, I am guilty of participating in that periodic pleasure of pundits everywhere; the top ten… or forty… or fifty. At the end of every year, I produce a list of my favourite films of the year, whether on the Scannain podcast, on my personal Twitter, or even occasionally on this blog. In my defense, I rationalise that through a desire to draw attention to good films, and accept we can quibble on the order of said film.

At the same time, these lists can often be illuminating in terms of contextualising affection for a particular film, or for gauging the general mood. So when a film appears on a single list, it might be worth checking out if you trust the author. If it appears on multiple lists, it is probably a much stronger recommendation. (The Scannain annual top ten is an eclectic list, but it disparate viewpoints often settle on at least one consensus pick: You Were Never Really Here, Moonlight, Hell or High Water.) It helps to set a level of a particular film’s relative appeal and popularity.

By that measure, Toy Story 2 is generally considered the weakest film its franchise. At time of writing, Toy Story, Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4 all feature on the Internet Movie Database’s Top 250 Movies of All-Time. Toy Story 2 is the lowest ranked entry in the franchise on lists compiled by Variety, Business Insider and The Ringer. It is the ranked as the weakest of the original trilogy on lists compiled by Slant Magazine, Collider and Polygon. None of this amounts to anything that can quantifiably be described as a “backlash.” After all, to be the worst Toy Story movie, a film still has to be pretty good.

However, there is a sense in which Toy Story 2 gets overlooked. There are any number of structural reasons for that. The middle part of a trilogy, picking up immediately after Toy Story but without offering the resolution expected of Toy Story 3, the film is neither a beginning nor an end. It is not an introduction to these characters, and it does not really function as a farewell either. More than that, the film may also be somewhat tarnished by its production history, originally mooted as a straight-to-video release before entering an insanely fast turnaround as a theatrical feature; it is partly why Disney owns Pixar.

Still, this tends to look past what makes Toy Story 2 such a delight. It is in many ways the perfect sequel.

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Non-Review Review: Toy Story 2

For my money, Wall-E is perhaps the strongest Pixar film from an artistic point of view. The Incredibles is perhaps the most consistently entertaining. Finding Nemo is the most emotional. Truth be told, I could probably find a way to rank almost every Pixar film so that it was my favourite in some way or another, because they’re all pretty much that good (although I’ll concede that Ratatouille, A Bug’s Life and Cars were merely “good” or “very good”). So, having completely picked apart any lavish praise I could shower on the film, I have  a very special fondness for Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy.

Just say Jesse...

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Toying With Ideas: Is Woody a Gift from Andy’s Father?

This came up in conversation with the better half about a week ago while we were discussing Toy Story 3. I happened to mention a theory I’d heard some time back that the reason that Woody was so important to Andy (as opposed to say, Rex or Mr. Potato Head) was because Woody had been handed down to the child from his father – giving him extra emotional weight since the father figure is notably absent from all three films (implying he and Andy’s mom could be divorced, he could be dead, or they simply never lived together – although he could just as easily have happened to be absent for every moment we were watching). I quite liked the idea that Woody had been around more than a generation, although my better half was somewhat less fond of the idea. Still, I think it’s a really interesting way to look at the film.

Could I be any father from the truth?

Note: This post contains spoilers for the end of Toy Story 3. But you should have seen it already. If you haven’t, go see it, then come back and share your thoughts.

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Toying With Us: Pixar’s Animation Legacy

This is one of my entries on the latest cross-blogging event, tracking down some of the most overrated movies of all time. It’s being run by Mike over at You Talking to Me. I can’t spoil the list by giving you any of the other titles, but I did take a quick look at Spider-Man‘s legacy earlier in the week.

I love Toy Story. I love Toy Story II even more. I am anticipating Toy Story III with baited breath. I adore Pixar. The only two films they’ve produced that fall short of excellence (in my opinion) are Cars and A Bug’s Life and both are still above average as films go. So it may seem odd to critique the legacy of perhaps the first great computer animated film – but this is a strange world we live in. Think about it, though. Pixar have essentially killed conventional animated films – at least in this part of the world.

Computer-generated animation spreads its wings...

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Toy Story 3D x 2

Hey, Disney, wassup? Seriously. I know I live in Ireland and that ripping off people is the norm, but c’mon? Everywhere else seems to be receiving Toy Story 3D as a double feature including Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in a four-hour epic? Instead, I have to fork out €10 twice to see two movies I’ve already seen and I can’t even make a decent weekend afternoon of it. We’re getting the first Toy Story rendered in 3D today, but we have to wait until Christmas for the second one.

Buzz isn't the only person the joke is on...

Buzz isn't the only person the joke is on...

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