Toy Story 2

Soundtrack

Walt Disney Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/10/1997

There are certain videos in our household that I'm surprised ever leave the VCR. For my wife, it would be Sleepless In Seattle. For me, it would be either Motorhead's The Birthday Party or a bootleg tape of Led Zeppelin's 1979 Knebworth performance. And then, there's my three-year-old, who would try to cram all her videos into the deck if she could. (She hasn't tried this yet, though I did find a few crayons lodged in my VCR when she was younger.)

If it's not Blue's Clues, it's Winnie-The-Pooh. If it's not Mulan, it's Toy Story. (Fortunately, since I'm nothing but a big, bent kid myself, I like watching the Disney films 30 times a week.) Of late, my daughter has been watching Toy Story a lot - possibly because she's formulating her list to Santa. She's been going over that movie with more scrutiny than some people gave the Zapruder film.

Toy Story 2 is set for release in the theatres the day before Thanksgiving - and something tells me that we'll be in line to see that before we go to my parents' house for dinner. The soundtrack to the film makes me think that if the action is half as good as the music, then this film will topple its original.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Although I don't claim to know the whole plot to the new film (and wouldn't give it out if I did), apparently one of the discoveries in this film is that Woody (the character voiced by Tom Hanks) once was a television star in the '50s. As a result, a good amount of the music is written around the theme of Woody's once bright past. From the opening track "Woody's Roundup" (performed by Riders In The Sky - or, for you kids out there, what a real Western band sounds like) to some of the instrumental cuts like "Jessie And The Roundup Gang" and "Woody's A Star," part of the plot is clearly laid out, and makes the flow of the music easy to follow.

Toy Story 2 features one moment of absolute brilliance, and one moment of kitsch that I could live without. The brilliance is on Sarah McLachlan's track "When She Loved Me," the sad tale of a once-favorite toy whose owner simply grew up. I challenge you not to be bawling during this tune - I was within seconds of completely losing it. (Hey, gimme a break, I cried during Tarzan, okay?)

But whoever came up with the idea of having Robert Goulet do a new version of "You've Got A Friend In Me" (a song which, sadly, is begging for retirement) should be sent to score future editions of All Dogs Go To Heaven - which, as we all know, is hell on earth. Do we really need to be exposing five-year-olds to kitsch? Cripes, I remember listening to Goulet when I got my first record player in 1974, and I'm still dealing with that in therapy.)

While the instrumental score tries to lay out the plot, sometimes it's hard to think what a song like "Al's Toy Barn" has to do with the story. I guess I'll have to wait and see the movie - and, to my friends at Walt Disney, yes, I'll be seeing it once it's out in the theaters.

The instrumental works are short enough to keep the kiddies interested, but intricate enough to keep the adults culturally stimulated. The closing version of "You've Got A Friend In Me," performed by saxophonist Tom Scott, sounds like the perfect closing credit music - though if there's a Toy Story 3, I sincerely hope they let this song be.

Incidentally, composer Randy Newman, who has been a fixture in Disney film music (or, at least, films from Pixar Animation), takes a back seat and does not sing on this album - too bad, 'cause I would have rather heard him sing "You've Got A Friend In Me" again instead of Goulet. Newman concentrates instead on composing and conducting the instrumental score, as well as co-producing the album.

The soundtrack for Toy Story 2 is a solid effort that will please both the child and your own inner child. Who needs Pokemon when this is all set to tickle your senses?

Rating: A-

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© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Walt Disney Records, and is used for informational purposes only.