You’d think that Woody, Buzz, and the Toy Story crew already exhausted the narrative juice out of the franchise by the time the 3rd film closed its pages on Andy’s childhood, but a couple of shorts that are set after the events of Toy Story 3 later and we can see that there’s still a lot of mileage out of these toys. Case in point: the 22-minute TV special Toy Story That Time Forgot.
Toy Story That Time Forgot brings back original voice cast members Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, and Wallace Shawn as they reprise their original roles, alongside relatively new addition Kristen Schaal. The TV special was originally aired on ABC last December 2, 2014, but in case you missed it, Disney/Buena Vista has released a Blu-Ray + Digital HD set recently, letting you relive the story and rewatch the bonus content any time you want – and that’s probably now because the holidays are fast approaching.
I mentioned holidays, because Toy Story That Time Forgot is a Christmas special that focuses on the Toys’ new owner Bonnie receiving new presents. Like previous owner Andy, Bonnie enjoys new toys but never forgets to tend to her older ones. Bonnie and the toys visit a family friends’ house, Mason, who has received the entire line of Battlesaurs toys (Dinosaurs with robotic/cyborg parts) but has neglected them after receiving a new virtual reality video game system.
The story gets into gear when Bonnie becomes entranced by the virtual reality game as well, leaving Woody, Buzz, Jessie, plus resident dinosaurs Rex and Trixie to chill with the Battlesaurs. In a throwback to the first film, the leader of the Battlesaurs is a relatively nice guy but is not aware that he is just a toy, instead believing that he’s a warrior fighting for his life against each toy. His delusions even resulted in Rex getting his own cybernetic upgrades (which of course plays out to hilarious effect.) It is now up to the Toy Story gang to convince their new friends that they are in fact just toys, before they get caught up in all the fighting and end up broken beyond repair.
There’s really not much to say about Toy Story That Time Forgot that isn’t already a given, considering that it’s still made by Disney/Pixar and still stars the main cast members. It’s a fun romp with as much levity as it has pathos. The visuals are still top notch and the narrative itself doesn’t wear out its welcome (especially since it’s less than 30 minutes long.) What’s important to point out here is that the special doesn’t require prior knowledge of the franchise.
The special works well even if you haven’t watched the 3 films. You’ll miss references and in-jokes, but you’ll like the story and the characters enough that it may convince you to check out the entire franchise, which basically means Toy Story That Time Forgot does exactly what Disney/Pixar wants it to do, and gives viewers exactly what they need to see.