23 June 2010
I gotta give 'em credit, this is what a sequel ought to do. If you're going to do a sequel, I think you're obliged to go deeper into character, deeper into your world, and deeper into your themes. Here we expand on the mythology of both Woody and Buzz and while we're at it, we explore deeper layers of each character's identity and crisis from the first movie. Each has a legacy. Woody is the older, rarer, grandfathered-in toy, whose "origin" opens up; Buzz is the newer, flashier toy, whose modernity leads naturally to mass-production, newer models with fancier gizmos, and video-game tie-ins. Both get new characters to populate their little sub-worlds. And better still, both expand on the idea of what it means to be a toy (being a collectible as well as a plaything; having a zillion versions just like you). And on top of all that, the story does what a sequel has to do: it takes the first story and turns it on its head. Now it's Woody who has to be reminded he's "just a toy," but for a whole new reason, and we even get to revisit (for laughs) Buzz's arc from the first Toy Story through the eyes of the New Buzz. Pretty fuckin' smart there, Pixar.
But honestly, every time Randy Newman's god-awful song "You've Got a Friend In Me" came back, with lyrics so painfully, egregiously spot-on that it threatened to sour the movie, I hated it more than the previous time. There is no excuse for that song to exist, or for his lyrics to be a part of the Toy Story experience, and I fucking already dread the fact that this song (and surely new songs with equally blatantly expository lyrics) will be a part of 3. Other than Randy Newman, though, I've got no complaints.