All the Pixar-caliber components are here: TOY STORY 2 puts its emphasis first on telling a good story, with heartfelt emotions and well-rounded characters arcs. While the clever jokes are nonstop, director John Lasseter never relies on cheap sight gags (*cough*Shrek*cough*) or recent pop culture references (*vomit*Shark Tale*vomit*) to generate laughs; everything here is timeless. The movie is also chock full of the same hilarious and endearing characters, including some new faces (like Wheezy the asthmatic squeeze-toy penguin…genius!). The creators pick the right voice talent to the fit the characters, instead of just cramming in big name stars (*fart*Madagascar*fart*). Case in point: Wallace Shawn as Rex the insecure dinosaur is so brilliant that it’s Inconceivable!
What makes TOY STORY 2 more than just your average cash-in sequel though, is it’s treatment of (and respect for) the original movie, taking everything you love about the first film and turning it on its head. The roles and plots are paralleled and deconstructed in a way that keeps the idea of “the toys are alive!” fresh beyond its initial premise, from Buzz having to deal with his own deluded self to Woody coming to grips with his on-the-shelf mortality. (Makes me want to go find all my old Ninja Turtles action figures and hug them.)
Every aspect of this universe is so fantastic that I weep knowing Disney is currently making a Pixar-less TOY STORY 3 just for the dough. Oh, the humanity!
Intro (1:34): Director John Lasseter welcomes you to this new DVD, the “best-looking and best-sounding version” of TS2 yet. Get used to his smiling face because Lasseter is all over these discs (which is great since his energetic love for the movie is absolutely infectious.)
Commentary by Lasseter and co-directors/writers Lee Unkrich, Ash Brannon and Andrew Stanton: From the get go, this is one of the most entertaining commentaries ever; playful, funny and full of in-jokes and behind the scenes trivia. The four cover not only the technical side of it all, but the meticulous attention to detail that goes in to crafting a Pixar story.
Sneak Peeks (10:26): Previews for an assortment of Disney DVDs and games. However, the real treat here is a two and a half minute look at CARS, the next Pixar movie. It’s Lasseter’s first directorial effort since TS2, and therefore will be genius, I’m sure.
Making TOY STORY 2 (8:10): A general behind-the-scenes promotional piece that covers the film from conception to finish. A good overall companion to the other more-detailed segments on this disc.
Deleted Scenes (4:11): Two alternate sequences, including Rex playing Godzilla and a different take on the road crossing sequence. Nothing staggeringly magnificent, but it is fun to hear Wallace Shawn’s version of a Godzilla roar.
Behind The Scenes:
John Lasseter Profile (3:02): Hear everyone gush about how great the director is. Usually these brown-nosing fluff pieces annoy me, but it’s hard to argue that John Lasseter is one of the greatest human beings that ever walked the Earth.
Cast of Characters (3:30): A look at the actors recording their dialogue in the studio. The sessions with Tom Hanks and Tim Allen in the same room must’ve been a blast.
Design (32:47): Over half an hour of various design features, including character galleries, 3D set tours and color scripts.
Story (7:08): A look inside Pixar’s creative process: Joe Ranft pitches Woody’s dream sequence and a storyboard-to-film comparison. Well worth a look.
Production (17:19): Seven fascinating featurettes on the computer animation process. You should definitely check this out, if only to see how much hard work goes in to a single frame of finished film. All hail Pixar!
Music and Sound (14:08): A look at the film’s sound effects, score by Randy Newman, and songs by Sarah McLachlan and Robert Goulet. There’s also a neat feature where you can make your own sound mix of the film.
Publicity (8:32): Assorted trailers, posters and even an interview with Buzz and Woody.
Outtakes (5:27): Hilarious! If you caught the film in theaters, you probably saw this already, but it’s totally worth a re-watch.
Who’s The Coolest Toy (3:19): The cast and crew give their picks on the best character in the TOY STORY universe. (Hands down, the Pizza Planet aliens.)
Riders in the Sky Music Medley (3:11): Not a sequel to the classic Doors song, sadly. Instead, a music video featuring the country-western group who wrote the “Woody’s Roundup” theme song.
Autographed Pictures: A collection of 8x10’s autographed by the characters. How in the world did Bullseye sign his name? That’s completely unrealistic; I want my money back.
“Which Toy Are You” and “Ponkickies!” Games: One is a quiz to determine which character most fits your personality, and the other is a weird ass Japanese version of “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Kind of pointless, but the kids might get a kick out of it.
There’s also a few Easter Eggs hidden throughout both discs, rounding out a packed DVD set that’s sure to please any fan of the film.
[On a side note, it’s a joy to see story supervisor and Pixar legend Joe Ranft pop up on the disc’s special features, but witnessing his dynamic and creative personality also sucks knowing that he passed away earlier this year. Thanks for all the laughs, Mr. Ranft.]