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From the March 2000
Film Review

Film Review Hotline
5 Stars
The colourful pixel people that look so real...
Toys on the Side
VOICES: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Wayne Knight, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger
DIRECTOR: John Lasseter
SCREENPLAY: Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Doug Chamberlin, Chris Webb
CERTIFICATE: UDISTRIBUTOR and Picture copyright: Buena Vista
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 35mins
OPENING DATE (UK): February 11

Those marvellous Pixar people have triumphed again. With Toy Story and A Bug’s Life, they took animation into a whole new dimension – both visually and narratively – and with their third computer-generated feature, John Lasseter and his team have pitched their tent even further up the mountain of excellence. There are bigger laughs, more thrilling set-pieces, a gasp-inducing array of life-like locations, a song that will break your heart and hilarious homage paid to Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. In this rare case, the words ‘classic’ and ‘sequel’ belong side by side.

Cowboy Woody (Hanks) takes the limelight this time, as he’s swiped by unscrupulous toy collector Al (Knight, the techno-geek from Jurassic Park) to be the centrepiece of a museum display in Japan. Captive in Al’s apartment, the stitched Sheriff learns that he’s actually a rare collectible from a Fifties TV series called ‘Woody’s Roundup’ and meets a trio of his toy co-stars – boisterous cowgirl Jessie (Cusack), crotchety old Stinky Pete the Prospector (Grammer) and Bullseye, the happy horse. Meanwhile, Buzz and his plastic pals set off on an eventful rescue mission.

It’s a real challenge to find much wrong with this movie. The characters’ facial gestures, movements and vocal performances are so bang-on, that after about two minutes, you’re completely lost in a world of toys. Of course, the advantage of a sequel is that the audience’s familiarity with the characters allows for a more plot-heavy adventure. This time there’s an enjoyably epic feel as the brave little toys chase all over town, eventually leading to double trouble for Buzz and an encounter with his galactic adversary.

Although kids will no doubt enjoy seeing these loveable playthings brought to life once again, there’s a noticeably more grown-up feel to the story. Besides the movie in-jokes, a handful of action scenes provide more excitement than we’re used to seeing in an animated feature. The sci-fi spoof opening, perilous traffic cone-assisted road crossing and Die Hard 2-style baggage fracas, are all indicators of the growing confidence of the Pixar artists and the realization that computer animation has the potential to go head-to-head with anything in a Jerry Bruckheimer or Joel Silver movie. And beyond.

Jason Caro

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Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction.

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Also reviewed online this month:
4 Stars
THE BEACH • released February 11


5 Stars
The Talented Mr Ripley • Feb 25
Topsy Turvy • Feb 18
Hang the DJ • Jan 14
Rear Window • Feb 4
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The Cider House Rules • Feb 11
End of the Affair • Feb 4
Man on the Moon • Feb 18
Open Your Eyes

(Abre Los Ojos)Feb 25
Rien sur Robert

(Nothing to do with Robert)Feb 25
Rosetta • Feb 25