This week, we looked at Pixar’s first sequel, Toy Story 2, as well as cartoon spinoff, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins.
After the success of Toy Story, Disney wanted to continue the franchise and decided that they were going to make a sequel with or without Pixar’s involvement. Pixar realized that if one was going to be made, they were going to be involved and in 1999, Toy Story 2 was released.
The most incredible thing about Toy Story 2 is just how good it is. At first, that might seem like a strange thing to say. After all, Pixar makes great films. However, the track record of worthy Hollywood sequels, especially up to this point, wasn’t’ great. Sequels that matched or topped the quality of the original were few and far between and Pixar was determined to break that tradition and make Toy Story 2 something they could be proud of. This proved to be difficult, however, as the stressful development of Toy Story 2 seemed like the film would be doomed. Due to the success of Disney’s recent direct-to-video market, they were originally going to make a lower budget sequel that would not hit theaters. After it was decided to be a theatrical release, Pixar had to juggle this and A Bug’s Life. Also, the story that had been pitched was just not working; most of it needed to be scrapped and rewritten. With the help of Pixar’s top story writers, it was rewritten and was on track to be released in a record nine months which forced everyone into overdrive to get the film finished.
Upon release, Toy Story 2 was everything it needed to be and more. Incredibly successful with critics and audiences, it has gained a reputation as one of the best sequels of all time. With the return of the original voice cast, new beloved characters, and more great music by Randy Newman, it is no wonder that it is so loved. The song “When She Loved Me” was nominated for Best Original Song at both the Oscars and the Golden Globes.
Looking back on Toy Story 2 today, it still works. It is different enough from the first, taking the story into new, natural directions. Seeing the point of view of toys as adult collector’s items is a powerful juxtaposition to the way Sid interacted with the toys in the first film. I recommend Toy Story 2 as a sequel and an excellent film in its own right.
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins is an in-universe cartoon special featuring the adventures of Buzz Lightyear and Zurg. Shortly after Toy Story 2, Disney decided to make a traditionally animated TV series about Buzz Lightyear. The Adventure Begins acts as a pilot for that show, with an opening sequence that takes place in Andy’s Room. This is the only part of the film that is actually animated by Pixar, with the rest coming from Walt Disney Television animation. Interestingly, in this special Buzz is voiced by Tim Allen, whereas in the cartoon show, Patrick Warburton voices the character.
Next week, we will be watching Monsters, Inc. and the shorts For the Birds and Mike’s New Car.