Pixar’s first television special is a Halloween story featuring Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Trixie (Kristen Schaal), and Mr. Potato Head‘s (Don Rickles) adventures in a roadside motel when Bonnie (Emily Hahn) and her mother (Lori Allen) are forced to stop and spend the night due to car troubles. Setting up the tone of the special during the car trip with the scary DVD, Pricklepants’ commentary on horror movies, and Jessie’s panic at getting trapped in a tool box, the episode will play on the creepy and mysterious nature of the hotel as Bonnie’s toys begin going missing while exploring their new surroundings during the night.
“Toy Story of Terror” offers plenty of creepy turns, dark shadows, and things going bump in the night for the toys as one-by-one they are picked off by a mysterious force while navigating the hotel’s air ducts and crawl spaces. The toys are eventually reunited as it is revealed the hotel manager’s pet iguana has been trained to troll the hotel for toys his owner can steal and sell online which is exactly what he plans to do with Woody and his friends.
Although Jessie’s early claustrophobia in the tool box may be a tad much for younger children, the special offers a nice message with the cowgirl overcoming her fears at being trapped in a box (as she was for so many years) to save Woody and help her friends escape. Along the way she also meets some new friends in Combat Carl (a pretty cool G.I. JOE style action figure who speaks in the third person and is voiced by Carl Weathers) and an assortment of other toys stolen from hotel guests including the ridiculous Pocketeer (Ken Marino), a PEZ cat, and LEGO creature cable of taking other shapes, each of whom help in the escape.
“Toy Story of Terror” may not be an instant classic Halloween cartoon on the levels of It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown or the best of The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” shorts, but (as one would expect from Pixar) it’s certainly well-made and very entertaining. I have no doubt families will be able to enjoy the special for many Halloweens to come.