I, like many millennials, grew up with the tale of Toy Story. While I currently still feel like Peter Pan and am not ready to grow up, the “Toy Story” shorts that Disney/Pixar have been creating for the past few years are helping quell that overwhelming responsibility known as adulthood. All of which, including “Toy Story That Time Forgot,” have been the perfect remedy when I need a childhood nostalgia fix.
Enter Bonnie’s home just after Christmas 2014, and Woody and Buzz’s new child looks to have grown older. (As she should, since “Toy Story 3” came out four years ago.) While it’s just a half hour TV special, you can tell Pixar and Disney put as much effort into this as they did with the Toy Story feature films; the animation quality that has gone into this special is still superb. The emotions that flash across every toy’s face and the furrow of Bonnie’s brow when she can’t find her friend Mason all leave me in awe. Along with the animation quality, I was impressed with the score that knew the right moment to draw the audience in for a dramatic moment, but also knew when to scale back and let the action or dialogue take the spotlight.
As it’s after Christmas, Bonnie’s home looks like a war zone with toys (new and old) strewn across the living room floor. The viewers get to see more of Bonnie’s toys rather than just Andy’s gang, but even more characters are introduced when Bonnie goes to her friend Mason’s house. The newest, coolest action figures on the market, the Battlesaurs, are Mason’s biggest Christmas gift, but he’s too busy playing on his new video game system to notice how cool these dinos are. But because of Mason’s lack of attention, the Battlesaurs don’t realize they’re toys. (Reminiscent of Buzz’s scenario in the first film.)
Though Bonnie/Andy’s toys don’t realize that the Battlesaurs want to actually battle, they play along thinking it’s all an act. Not giving away too much of what happens to Woody, Buzz, Rex and this short’s star, Trixie, I’ll say “Toy Story That Time Forgot” has everything: battles, childhood remembrance, silly jokes, jokes adults will enjoy, and there’s even a brief theme song! What more can someone ask for in a new holiday special?
Despite the fact there isn’t as much action packed into a half hour as there is in a full-length film, this special hit it just right. The arena the Battlesaurs fight in has a “Gladiator”-eque vibe with a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down deciding a toy’s fate. The fate of Woody, Buzz, Rex and Trixie is unknown to viewers at the climax of “Toy Story That Time Forgot.” When fighting the Battlesaurs, the audience can see how dated our heroes are, as they are toys from almost 20 years ago. But nonetheless, these characters pack a punch — which is exactly what Pixar is wanting with the recent announcement of “Toy Story 4” coming in 2017.
To avoid sounding cliché, while I may no longer be the target audience the Toy Story shorts and films are aiming for, “Toy Story That Time Forgot” had me in a fit of giggles. For this new holiday special (can you say “classic?”), I give it a solid B. Maybe it’s because I have questions about the rules of being a toy in the Toy Story realm, but there are a few matters left unanswered for me when it ended. Such as where on earth did the cat angel ornament go? While we’ll have to wait longer than 3:30 on Tuesday to see Bonnie and her toys again, we may have a hint at who this love story will revolve around.