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By Ted Baldwin

Toy Story 2


It is true what everyone says. This five-shooter is better than the original, and one of the most glowing, warm, and all-purpose films of the decade.

Not only that, but the sheer logistics of the animation are mind-boggling...

     What Lucas is doing for photorealistic compositing and rendering in Star Wars, Toy Story's Pixar people are doing for 100% computer generated imagery. But the details of technical wizardry are not the focus of Toy Story 2. We've had hand drawn cartoons for 75 years - the new wrinkle is that animated storytelling is coming more alive through mature, quality, and I mean quality, writing.

     This is a really great show. Sorry for you if you have kids, but when it hits tape and DVD, you will see and hear it beyond all endurance. Thank God in heaven there is a substantial story, and something to hang your hat on.

     Toy Story 2 follows Andy as he is doll-napped from his owner, discovering his true self in the process. Like Tom Ripley, in the Talented Mr. Ripley, Andy finds a whole new set of playmates, and the truth about himself. There the similarity ends (PG).

     What is it about Woody's past that will keep him in a museum for all eternity? What is it about his friends that make them want to rescue him? (And what is it about the silly Pixar Titles Lamp that they keep resurrecting it for supposedly new audiences? It's cute. We've seen it a million times. Move on.) Sorry. I am not spoiling anything for you here.

     I went by myself (re: loneliness) at a New Millenium's Day matinee full of young parents and lengthy tow-lines of kids from babes in arms to free-range flyers. Surrounded by all of the noise, and inattentiveness, and restlessness, I listened to the Grown-ups having a really good time, talking to the screen, and cheering. Me too.

     What I came away with, nearly thirty five years removed from my own most beloved toys, was a sense of loss, longing for simpler days when I did not have deadlines, fussy clients, loneliness (as only an adult understands) or any of a million responsibilities I take upon myself (I exaggerate only a little).

     I was glad to revisit those days, but I do have new toys, which are more appropriate. And my responsibilities define me as a man, and as a loved one to people who matter. So my escape is unnecessary - I have what I need and want most as an adult. And I have a movie to go see to help remind me that I am loved.

     There is nothing more to say about the film proper, except take you and the kid in you, and see it.


     The credits roll on forever in this film, with those hundreds upon hundreds of people, shaders, 3-d animators, motion key experts, you name it, getting their one brief mention for three year's imprisonment. The ending also has the now-requisite bloopers, which are really clever.

     Little do you realize! As much work goes into a blooper as into any other moment of an animated film. Technically, there are screw-ups on the part of the animators, but there is no such thing as a spontaneous cartoon blooper. Every nuance of the toys has to be configured on the computers, and rendered with subtle variations until the look and feel is right, and everything is doing what it is supposed to. To boot, the actors have to act like they just did a blooper. Perfectly. And getting it all right sets the teeth of six hundred people on edge for three years.

     When you look at the sublime beauty of the film, its musical numbers, the scale of the story, the depth of the characterizations, the joyous in-jokes and attention to detail, detail, detail - you look at the pinnacle of animation art - a masterpiece of collaboration designed for everyone - a splendid nostalgic gift that will break 200 million this 6th week of release, and live for centuries.

     Best of all, it will maybe keep your kid in his seat for twenty minutes...

The website needs work, in that it has too much periperal advertising - the intended information is not center-stage, and for what the movie will make, it should be. Also, go ahead and make the rest of the Woody's Roundup Collectibles, we'll buy 'em. Amusing, isn't it?

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