Disney continues to pull its disappearing acts on DVD with their limited time offers, this time using the new Toy Story 2 2-disc release as the proverbial carrot in front of the mule. While such marketing tactics may be a little annoying to those of us that don’t like to be told when we can or can’t see a movie, there should be no greater incentive to pick this up if you haven’t yet claimed a copy of the film. Toy Story 2 cemented Pixar’s name in quality animation and continued to prove the little studi… that could, could continue to knock one after the other out of the park.
In this outing, Woody’s the one in trouble. A yard-sale robbery has placed him in the hands of the villainous Al from Al’s Toy Barn. Al (voiced by Seinfeld’s Wayne Knight) needs Woody to complete his Woody’s Round-Up collection, and now that he has him, he plans on selling the entire display to a Japanese toy museum. That’s when all the lovable toys from Andy’s toy box come together for one of the greatest rescue missions in Disney animation history. Highlighted by moments of spot-on satire, kid-friendly humor, heart-felt poignancy (as in the teary-eyed memories of Jessie, the Yodeling Cowgirl), and an unforgettable airport finale (with its own share of twists, turns, and thrills), Toy Story 2 equals its predecessor and takes Pixar to the next level of superior entertainment.
Unfortunately, I have not experienced previous transfers of the film to DVD, so there’s nothing I can compare it to, but the 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen video presentation looks stunning, and is free of all contaminants. The colors have a vibrant sharpness to them that I don’t remember having previously seen, even when I first experienced this film in theaters. The multiple colors rendered in the world of Andy’s room perfectly capture that beautiful quality of childlike innocence and wonder, and the dark dangers of the ventilation system-elevator shaft scenes provide the right amount of contrast with perfect execution. I would venture to say Toy Story 2 has never looked as good as it does here.
Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1, the audio gets a workout either way with the film’s many unequaled set-pieces. The disastrous street crossing, the herky-jerky spills and chills of Buzz and the rest of the toys’ efforts to break Woody free of the prison-like apartment building, the extended climax through baggage and, finally, the airport runway rescue – all give Toy Story 2’s soundtracks their chances to shine, and neither track ever drops the ball. Bass levels pound with intensity, while background noises chime in at all the right moments. And the musical score – a variation of Randy Newman’s “You Got a Friend in Me,” is the perfect topper. An all together full, breathtaking track.
While the film crosses the line from “kids’ film” to enjoyable fun for the whole family, the special features, for the most part, stay focused towards younger audiences. Still, adults will manage to enjoy the deleted scenes and outtakes. There’s also an all-new game, Which Toy Are You? and an exciting sneak peek at Pixar’s next animated feature, Cars. Plenty to keep you occupied on the two discs, including an audio commentary and video introduction from Director John Lasseter.
It’s easy to fall in love with the toy creations of Pixar, but the most pleasant surprise in rediscovering Toy Story 2 is just how touching it can be in spite of its funny characters and situations. Jessie’s lament for her former owner Emily is as moving as anything you’ll see in a film. For those who actually have children, you may even find yourself shedding tears over this powerful sequence. It’s this quality that Toy Story 2 brings which represents the magnitude of its greatness. Sure, the film is for children, but it doesn’t try to sidestep the pain of growing up. It tackles the issue head-on and stays grounded in reality. In so doing, it brings a heart to the film that actually one-ups that of its predecessor. Who knows how this release holds up to the others? But if you’ve never purchased Toy Story 2 on DVD before, now is as good a time as any.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes
- Hilarious Outtakes
- New Sneak Peek At Pixar’s Next Animated Feature, CARS
- All-New Game — “Which Toy Are You?”
- Director’s Commentary
- Video Introduction
- And much, much more!