When Disney’s straight-to-video ”Aladdin” sequel sold a whole new world’s worth of copies in the mid-’90s, the company started a stream of home-screen follow-ups, mining more stories out of ”The Lion King,” ”Beauty and the Beast,” and the like. And that’s exactly where ”Toy Story 2” was headed until the folks at Pixar, who made the 1995 original (with counsel and distribution muscle from Disney), got the green light to make it a full-fledged theatrical feature.
And why not? Spaceman doll Buzz and cowboy doll Woody grossed nearly $192 million during their first outing, and a big-screen venture would yield more ancillary profits than a video. Plus, the plot of the sequel sounded really, really fun.
This time it’s Buzz (Allen) who comes to the rescue when a vintage-toy dealer (Knight) steals Woody (Hanks). Cusack sounds off as the cowgirl who, as it turns out, costarred with Woody in a 1950s TV show. Grammer speaks up as a fussy old prospector; and Benson, best known as ”The Little Mermaid”’s Ariel, lends her voice to Barbie, whose planned appearance in the original ”Toy Story” was quashed by Mattel (the toy company has now agreed to let Pixar give the gal a makeover).
Director Lasseter, an antique-toy collector, said the sequel’s story began taking shape ”when my sons would come to my office and there’d be shelves of Daddy’s toys they couldn’t play with.” And since this sequel is intended to generate sales of more Woody and Buzz products, let’s hope that Hanks has learned his lesson about their value.
Lasseter says the star once spotted a little girl in a shopping mall holding a Woody doll, so ”he picked it up and signed it. The girl’s mother, of course, was completely, ‘Aaaaah! Don’t play with it anymore!’ The little girl looked up at him like, ‘How dare you.”’ BUZZ FACTOR: 8
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