BrandonA’s review published on Letterboxd:
Toy Story 2 is probably my favorite direct Pixar sequel, as it not only expands off the first, but adds layers to our main characters and the world surrounding them. John Lasseter has shaped my childhood from Cars to this. While I tend to revisit Cars more, I have a definitive love for this franchise and my childhood ties back into the earlier movies like this one. While nostalgia is a huge factor, the quality of this movie is some of the best Pixar has to offer. Like the first, it tells a delightful story that has aged like fine wine and unlike the first, the animation holds up (for the most part) and the improvement in that department is evident. Toy Story 2 doesn’t quite live up to the first, but I still love it and there are elements that hold up better like the animation.
The story and the stakes are much larger here and instead of focusing on two characters, we focus on two different storylines. On one side, you have Woody trying to get back to Andy but finding a home with the Roundup Gang. On the other hand, you have the other toys trying to rescue Woody and Buzz returning the favor for what Woody did in the previous film. Both sides are compelling and even though simplicity is lacking here, my level of enjoyment was still through the roof. It’s a fun adventure that will get anyone in a happy or sad mood. You can always rely on Pixar to nail the emotion as here, we learn Jessie’s backstory and where she comes from and although the level of emotion isn’t as high as the later movies, it’s still high.
With the new character additions and the wonderful cast, this movie really kept me engaged and there isn’t a dull moment. The story is fresh, genius and comedic. The Star Wars references, the constant adult humor from side characters, the small easter eggs, this franchise nails the tone comedically and you will always get a good laugh out of these movies. The third act absolutely pays off and this movie holds up well after 20+ years. I know this is a kid’s animated movie, and I hate to criticize the movie for it, but I just can’t get past certain conveniences and logical issues, just like other movies Pixar has given us. Needless to say, Toy Story 2 is a terrific sequel that gives us fresh faces and a brilliant story.