2009 Running time: 92 Certificate: u Rating: 5

Synopsis

Saddle up, pardners, for the sequel that takes audiences to the heights of Pixar's ground-breaking, computer-animated classic... and beyond. When rag cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks) is snatched by a greedy toy merchant, space hero Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) rounds up the playbox posse to bring him home. But with a new set of friends depending on him, Woody can feel his loyalties coming apart at the seams. The magic of 3D puts the glaze on the cherry on the top of an already irresistible treat.

Director

  • John Lasseter

Cast

  • Tom Hanks

  • Tim Allen

  • Joan Cusack

  • Kelsey Grammer

  • John Ratzenberger

Review

Back in 1995, the world went ga-ga for its first fully computer-generated feature: Toy Story. Not only did it make its creators Pixar a household name, it started the biggest revolution in animation since Ma Disney's boy put ink to paper.

Nevertheless, it was always going to be a tough act to follow. But for the sequel, expectations were riding to infinity and beyond.

Astonishingly, it turned out to be a collectors' piece as rare as Woody himself; a sequel that matched and often surpassed the original on every level. Ten years after its initial release, Toy Story 2 is as fresh and uplifting as ever.

And to whet everyone's appetite for the long-awaited third instalment, it's been given a 3D overhaul.

We rejoin Woody (Hanks) as he prepares for his owner Andy's annual trip to 'Cowboy Camp'. But one twist of fate (twist of arm, to be precise) sees him left behind, while another puts him in the thieving hands of unscrupulous toy dealer Al (voiced by Jurassic Park villain Wayne Knight).

Whisked off to Al's Toy Barn, Woody discovers that he completes a valuable set of merchandising spin-offs from a 50s TV hit called 'Woody's Roundup' that also includes cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack), Stinky Pete the prospector (Kelsey Grammer), and silent-but-trusty steed Bullseye.

But while he's anxious to get back to Andy, his Roundup co-stars need him to stick around so that they can finally come out of storage. Why hang around for Andy to grow up and abandon him when he can enjoy a lifetime of appreciation with them - in Japan?

A toy's gotta do what a toy's gotta do. So naturally, it's plastic-fantastic spaceman Buzz (Allen) to the rescue with a crack squad of Andy's favourite toys: Rex the dinosaur (Wallace Shawn), Mr Potato Head (Don Rickles), stretchy hound Slinky (Jim Varney) and Hamm the piggy bank (Pixar's lucky vocal charm John 'Cliff from Cheers' Ratzenberger).

It's a mission beset by obstacles ranging from the practical (driving cars; opening automatic doors) and the dangerous (busy roads; the evil robot Zurg) to the gloriously daft (a minefield of wotsits, bimbo Barbies and a second-generation Buzz Lightyear who's even more deluded than his predecessor).

But it'll all be worth it when Woody comes home, right?

With the messages about friendship, loyalty and the all-too-fleeting nature of childhood already striking the perfect emotional chord, the 3D treatment simply deepens the visual experience.

While it undoubtedly gives Buzz a boost, puts extra spring in Slinky's step, and adds a layer of polish to Woody's boots, it mainly benefits the action scenes; particularly the Hitchcockian sequence in which Woody has a nightmare about being left on the shelf.

It also adds resonance to Jessie's wistful trip down Memory Lane, a bittersweet montage set to Randy Newman's Grammy-winning song 'When She Loved Me' that tugs heart-strings on a level not reached again until the wonderful opening of Up.

As many pale imitators have proved, technical brilliance is one thing but the real secret to Pixar's success is in their powers of wit, observation, and good, old-fashioned storytelling.

However many dimensions you see them in, every Toy Story a joy to behold.