Joan Cusack as Jessie in Toy Story 2

My Favorite Scene: Toy Story 2 (1999) “Jessie’s Story”

Disney recently announced that Toy Story 4 is set for release in 2019. That sparks in me the immediate reaction that we don’t NEED another Toy Story, because we already have three perfect ones. Granted, I had this reaction when Toy Story 2 was announced AND when Toy Story 3 was announced, and while it’s hard to differentiate between how perfect these films are, the sequels are probably both better than the original.  I hope the same kind of care to the legacy of these characters (much more recognizable to the children of the world today than Mickey, Minnie, or Pluto) is upheld.

Toy Story 2 introduced a number of new characters to the gang, most notably, Jessie the Cowgirl (voiced by Joan Cusack). Unlike the toys of Andy’s room, Jessie had lead a much more tumultuous life. She preferred life as a collectible, because being loved by a child hurt too much (as all the toys would learn in the next installment) when that child outgrows them.  Woody finally gets her to open up and tell her story, which is sad enough, but oh no, no, Pixar wasn’t satisfied with jumping up and down on your heart strings. They wantonly deployed Sarah McLachlan, the master of vocal tear generation, to sing the beautiful “When She Loved Me” over Jessie’s tale.

Pixar’s been in a rut for the most part over the last few years. It is heartening to hear the sequels are stopping after Toy Story 2, and we have had a few gems like Inside Out and Finding Dory, but when you watch a scene like this, you remember what Pixar was and should be again. There isn’t a demographic on Earth not moved by some part of this scene. They didn’t make films for kids, they made them for all ages in a way that never pandered to any age. This is the bar they face in Toy Story 4. So….good luck with that!
Woody and Jessie in Toy Story 2

5 thoughts on “My Favorite Scene: Toy Story 2 (1999) “Jessie’s Story””

  1. These films are about the very human need for belonging, and the ways that we deal with loss. The series is fun for kids, and they love it, but it means so much more if you’re an adult, and Pixar keeps knocking it out of the park. Also the first one is wonderful, yet I would argue that the second and third don’t just get better, they get exponentially better. So I’m not betting against Pixar, because you’re right, skepticism is what you feel every time, yet so far they’ve only made one terrible sequel (Cars 2) and a middling one (Monsters University) and that is the scope of their walk of shame (I have not seen Cars 3 and don’t plan to, but I will be charitable and lump it in with the young monsters). Finding Dory and of course TS 2 and 3 were better than the originals, which never happens.

    So all this talk of Pixar ruining itself with sequels is kind of baseless. Coco looks great, and I am optimistic. I think the suits at Disney are the ones dictating another TS anyway. The Pixar folks have a long way to go before they run out of creative steam.


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