Following the sublime ending of Toy Story 3, audiences around the world wept (repeatedly) at the departure of Woody, Buzz and the gang, knowing that all good things must eventually come to and end. Yet it seems that neither Pixar nor audiences are willing to let everyone’s favourite mismatched duo go just yet, as Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation makes its debut with the release of Cars 2 around the world.
Set immediately after the events of Toy Story 3, the toys are all living in Bonnie’s Room and are fairly content with their new life. New couple Barbie (Jodie Benson, The Little Mermaid) and Ken (Michael Keaton, The Other Guys) are ready for a trip to Hawaii where Ken plans to kiss Barbie for the first time, but they stow away in the wrong bag and are stuck in the room. Led by Woody (Tom Hanks, Larry Crowne) and Buzz (Tim Allen, Toy Story 3), the rest of the toys decide to make the room and its surrounds as much like Hawaii as possible and fulfill Barbie and Ken’s dreams.
While it could be argued that the original Toy Story wasn’t in need of a sequel, the sublime experiences of Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3 have left audiences the world over with the warm and fuzzies. The third entry in the series was very much about letting go and accepting the mortal coil, making the two sequels not only relevant but absolutely necessary in completing the saga of a cowboy named Woody and a spaceman named Buzz. Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation makes no attempt to reopen the saga, and is instead a short vignette centred on some of the new characters that the last film gave us. Some may think that this is pure merchandising, and the Toy Story Toons moniker might suggest more entries in the series are on the way, there is nothing but pure joy to be found in this short. Like revisiting old friends, director Gary Rydstrom (the Lifted short and the English dub of Tales from Earthsea) and his co-writers Jason Katz (Toy Story 3), Christian Roman (Fillmore, The Simpsons) and Erik Benson fundamentally understand what it is why love about them, and construct a familiar yet original world as we, like Andy at the conclusion of the third film, get to pull out the toys and play with them one more time.