Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Toy Story 2

Published on: March 23rd, 2004

Toy Story 2

6/10

USA 1999, dir. John Lasseter, stars voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen

I’m starting to wonder whether I watched the same Toy Story 2 as the one most critics seem to have seen. It’s a funny, very enjoyable kids’ cartoon with plenty in there for adults as well, but to start calling it the best sequel since The Godfather Part 2 does nobody any good whatsoever. And if this has elements that are emotionally engaging and deeply moving, what does that make The Iron Giant, an absurdly overlooked and underrated kids’ animation from last year which towers over Toy Story 2 in every regard.

The computer-generated visuals are, as you might expect, extraordinary to look at, and a lot of care has gone into the script, but the film never becomes any more than the sum of its parts, and by the end seems rather too pleased with itself for comfort. Almost every line seems to contain a punning bit of wordplay that wouldn’t go out of place in Countdown’s dictionary corner, almost every shot contains an ingenious visual gag. On a scene by scene basis, this is fine. Extended to feature length, it becomes repetitive and tiresome, and it’s disappointing to see yet another American movie reach its climax with yet another airport chase.

There are marvellous things here – I especially liked the boxing toys, who speak in a civilised drawl before rapidly coming to frenzied blows – and the film is an impressive achievement. But put the superlatives on hold until you’ve checked out Iron Giant – a song-free masterpiece that bravely tried to make it in the world without the benefit of fast-food tie-ins.

by Neil Young