The Toy Story franchise simply can do no wrong. After concluding one of the greatest trilogies in film history with 2010’s Toy Story 3, Pixar has since added three short films and last night’s Halloween TV Special to the extraordinary Toy Story franchise. The special saw some of our favorite toys spending the night at a creepy motel, where they started disappearing one by one. If you missed the special, I advise you to stop reading, as the review will be full of spoilers! But here’s a list of when you’ll be able to watch it!
An ensemble of protagonists
If you think about it, Toy Story 2 & 3 are the only Pixar films that haven’t changed protagonists. Monsters University saw Mike take center stage, Finding Dory will obviously feature a lot of Dory, each Toy Story Toon has had a different protagonist and well, Cars 2 also happened. But this has been specially successful in the Toy Story franchise, because all the characters are so well developed. Take the first scene from Toy Story of Terror for example: As they watch a horror movie together, they all react according to their personalities: Buzz wants the movie character to think strategically, Mr. Pricklepants shows his extensive knowledge of movies, theater and the show business in general, Mr. Potato Head’s pessimism, etc…
Last night’s spooky special had Jessie as its protagonist and boy, did she shine. We were quickly reminded of Jessie’s traumatic past (if you follow that link, you WILL cry) and during the next half-hour, we saw how she had to face her fears in order to overcome them and grow. The role of her mentor was given to none other than Combat Carl, voiced to perfection by Carl Weathers. He was a hilarious addition to an outstanding cast and the conclusion to the story was very satisfying to watch. After being exposed to Jessie’s fears during most of Toy Story 2 and then last night, it was heartbreaking to see her have to get inside of that box. But Jessie never gives up and Jessie found a way to save the day.
Classic Toy Story
When you think about what elements all Toy Story films include you probably think of how funny they are and how uncontrollably you end up sobbing every time. But another thing they always do is amaze the audience with the astute ways the toys move from place to place. Think the escape from Sunnyside in 3. Last night’s special had a short but memorable sequence where the toys have to get down from the ventilation shaft and they use everything that’s available to them, including one of Mr. Potato Head’s arms, to accomplish their goal. Workshopping those sequences and coming up with the way the toys use the resources available to them must be so much fun.
And Terror was certainly both funny and heartwarming. Mr. Pricklepants’s meta comments about horror movie/script structure were hilarious, there were lines that had me laughing out loud (“Are you Combat Carl?”) and seeing Jessie overcome her greatest fear was great. Also, that evil lizard was adorable!
So, what did you think of the TV Special? Do you think Pixar will keep producing short Toy Story content with a rotating cast of protagonists? (Maybe Potato Head should be the focus of the next one!) Or do you think they’ll go and do a fourth feature-lenght movie? I gotta say, I’ve always been opposed to this idea because of how perfectly TS3 wrapped things up, but Pixar seems to always be at their best when it comes to Toy Story. Although I really liked Brave and Monsters University, this 30-minute special is, to me, the best thing Pixar has released since Toy Story 3. A fine addition to a most notorious franchise!