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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Toy Story of TERROR! marks Pixar's phenomenally successful Toy Story franchise's jump to the TV market, and the result is just as remarkable as all three of the feature-length films. This one is intentionally reminiscent of a horror film in its plot development, and there are some scares that will make you –- not to mention your little ones –- jump, so if kids aren't ready for that kind of adrenaline rush, you might want to wait on this one. Similarly, Jessie's struggles with a long-held fear might worry some younger kids. Fortunately these troubles are mostly short-lived and quickly forgotten in light of the story's many gags, running jokes, and cast of comical new characters, and ultimately it's the feel-good messages about friendship, perseverance, and creative problem-solving –- as well as the fact that cheaters never prosper -– that kids will remember.
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What's the story?
It's a dark and stormy night, and Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and the rest of the gang are passing the time in the trunk of the car during a family road trip with their new owner, Bonnie (Emily Hahn). When car trouble forces an unplanned overnighter at a roadside motel, the gang settles in for the night, but then one of their own goes missing, and it's off to the races to bring him back in time to leave in the morning. A new adversary, a motley crew of new friends, and an unexpected heroine who must conquer her fears to save her friends make this spooky tale a real treat.
Is it any good?
This movie is a hauntingly hilarious TV special starring a select few of Pixar's timeless characters. Besides Woody and Buzz, only Jessie (Joan Cusack), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Trixie (Kristen Schaal), and Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton) make an appearance in this half-hour story, an unfortunate necessity of the truncated time frame. Happily, though, the story doesn't shirk on creative newcomers, and fans will love getting to know all the new faces, particularly a somewhat familiar one from a Toy Story past.
The Toy Story franchise's success isn't surprising, especially given what they manage to do with a core of only seven characters in Toy Story of TERROR!'s mere 22 minutes. Just when you've settled on a favorite personality, another emerges to challenge your loyalty with a priceless performance. And then there's all the fun it has with horror film tropes like shower scenes, monsters, and, yes, even body dismemberment. Truly, fans' only beef with this new addition to the Toy Story family may be that its shortened format leaves you wanting more from this sensational crew.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Jessie overcomes her fear. How did her fear stand in the way of her ability to save her friends? Kids: What are some of your fears? Do they ever interfere with you doing something you want to? How do you cope with your fears?
Another theme in this story is that some things' value can't be measured with money. What are your most prized possessions? Why are they so important to you? Would you ever part with them?
Kids: Where have you seen the Toy Story characters' images besides the movies? Do you own products that bear their faces? Why is it fun to wear clothes or play games with our favorite characters on them?
- On DVD or streaming: August 19, 2014
- Cast: Tim Allen, Timothy Dalton, Tom Hanks
- Director: Angus MacLane
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship
- Character strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 22 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: February 5, 2021
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