I really should not have picked up the soundtrack to Toy Story 2 before going to see it when it was released in 1999. I had to find out the hard way that Robert Goulet was singing in the movie.
The soundtrack also included "When Somebody Loved Me." Jessie's song about Emily, the little girl who owned and forgot about her, really affected me. Where Toy Story showed the secret life of toys, Toy Story 2 dealt strongly with the fact that, eventually, children outgrow their toys, and these characters, who thrived on playtime with their owners, could become lonely and forgotten. The film also focused on the collector mentality, which I did get caught up in a few years later, that maintains that toys are for looking, not playing. But the lesson that Jessie and Woody learned is that being loved as someone's toy, even for a short time, is more important than being locked inside a gilded cage, never to be played with again, avoiding the pain and heartbreak that would inevitably come. Wait a second, I'm half afraid this post is about to turn into a review of Toy Story 3 (good movie, go see it).
Jessie was a welcome addition to the cast. While the writers gave her a valid reason to want to avoid further heartache, Jessie seems to have the biggest heart of all the Toy Story characters. She does everything big, with perhaps a little too much enthusiasm. Where Woody retains the floppy physics of a rag doll, every move Jessie makes, while perhaps exuberant, is calculated and certain. It is Jessie who helps Woody realize where he came from, and it is for Jessie's sake that Woody makes the choices he does in Toy Story 2.
Jessie has also become one of my daughter's favorite characters, which is interesting, because her other favorites are the Disney Princesses and Tinkerbell. One of my favorite Disneyland memories is of my daughter meeting Jessie and having some one on one time together in a quiet corner of the park.
As a post script, my collector mentality gave out about the time that Cars was released. I purchased the toy Cars figures to display and keep on my bookshelf, out of the reach of young children, with no intention of taking them down.
Flash forward a couple of years. My son loves his (my former) Lightning McQueen and Mater cars, and won't go to sleep without Red, the fire engine. And you know what, I'm happy they're no longer on the shelf and that the paint has become chipped from countless drops on a tile floor. My son loves them, and that's what brings them to life.
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