I was 8 years old when Toy Story hit theaters. I remember eating the chocolate bars my mom smuggled into the theater in her purse while marveling at how darn cool the movie looked. Unlike many movies I loved as a child, Toy Story holds up for me as an adult. Amazingly, so does its sequel, released in 1999.
Sequels have a hard job to do, whether they are books or movies. If the sequels aren't as strong as the original piece that we loved, we as consumers may abandon the franchise, our memories of it tainted.
Today I'd like to examine Toy Story 2, and what makes it such a strong sequel as well as an enjoyable movie in its own right.
1) You don't have to watch Toy Story to enjoy Toy Story 2. We learn a lot about the characters and where they are coming from emotionally in the first movie, which certainly adds to our appreciation of them in Toy Story 2, but you can still understand the plot perfectly without having watched the first movie. It's a complete story all on its own.
2) At the same time, it builds off of what we learned about the characters in the first movie. For example, Woody understands Jessie's pain at being cast off perfectly because of what he went through with Andy and Buzz in the first movie. We as readers/watchers enjoy seeing how a character's experiences inform their choices as they move on through life, which is why so many of us love series.
I think these are important points to keep in mind as we consider writing sequels. Is the storyline of the sequel strong enough to stand on its own? Do we get to see the outcome of the character growth that we showed in the first novel?
What are your thoughts on Toy Story 2 and creating strong sequels? Please share in the comments!