Conveniently timed Blu-ray reissues bring out the cynic in us, especially when it comes to a title that has already received the Special Edition treatment in the previous format of choice. But we must give credit where credit is due: the Blu-ray releases of “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” are so well worth the upgrade that we kind of hate them for it. Fine, damn it, take our money. Again.
The best thing about these Blu-ray/DVD combo sets is a small thing, but an important one: All of the new bonus features appear on both types of media. Some studios only give the goods to the Blu-ray converts, but Disney clearly realizes that for many families, buying the latest technology is not their top priority, so good for them for making all of the new extras available on both formats.
And man, are those extras fun. There are two new features created for these sets. “Paths to Pixar” highlights the efforts of people on the technical side and what it was that led them to doing what they do for a living, but the “Studio Stories” bits are the crown jewels. Various Pixar staffers tell stories about the studio’s early days (our favorite is the one involving the scooter races), put to simple but highly amusing black & white animation. Each movie also has its own sneak peek into the upcoming “Toy Story 3,” though the feature on the “Toy Story 2” set which highlights the new characters is the superior of the two.
Both sets feature newly recorded audio commentaries. The commentary for “Toy Story” features the Pixar All-Stars, namely John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter (Oscar winners all). The commentary for “Toy Story 2” includes Lasseter, Stanton and Lee Unkrich, who makes his directorial debut with “Toy Story 3.” There is a heartbreaking piece dedicated to Joe Ranft, who passed away during the production of “Cars” in 2005, but the one extra that will have people buzzing is the Black Friday piece, where Lasseter introduces the rough version of “Toy Story” that nearly killed Pixar. It’s fascinating to watch because, well, there’s no other way of saying it: it’s mean.
Lastly, the Blu-ray editions include all of the DVD extras from the 2005 reissue of the “Toy Story” movies, so anyone who bought those versions does not need to keep them. These sets were thoughtfully considered and well done, but that’s what one would expect from the best movie studio in Hollywood.