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Review: Toy Story of Terror! (2013)

Toy Story of Terror - Woody, Jessie and BuzzPacking more laughs and smiles on your face moments in 22-minutes than some full-length comedies, “Toy Story of Terror!” is another shining gem from Pixar’s most endearing franchise and should be a new Halloween staple for all families.

Set not long after “Toy Story 3,” Bonnie and her mom are on a road trip with her toys tucked away in the trunk watching a scary movie. Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton) explains thriller movie conventions to the rest of the group and his overbearing knowledge of the genre becomes an entertaining running joke.

Toy Story of Terror - Trixie, Rex and Mr. PricklepantsCar trouble cuts the road trip short forcing Bonnie and her mother to stay in a quiet hotel, but one by one, the toys get taken leaving Jessie (Joan Cusack) all alone in an attempt to find her friends and get back to Bonnie before check-out time.

Telling of the love and pride of the franchise, the film voice actors reprise their roles here so there’s no Tom Hanks or Tim Allen stand-in for Woody and Buzz Lightyear providing a welcome sense of authenticity to the project and not some lame cash grab soiling the good name of “Toy Story.”  John Ratzenberger and Michael Keaton sadly wern’t available so Hamm and Ken doesn’t appear either, but Rex (Wallace Shawn), Trixie (Kristen Schaal) and Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) are here so the toys are hardly underrepresented.

COMBAT CARL, JESSIEAlong the way, Jessie encounters new toys — my favorite was Carl Weathers’ Combat Carl, a G.I. Joe homage with both 12″ and 3 3/4″ versions — and a new adversary – the toy collector who grabs toys so he can sell it on an eBay stand-in.

Per the norm for any Pixar production, the animation is beautiful with immaculate attention to lighting and bright eye-pleasing colors. Director/Writer Angus MacLane fully gets the series’ perfect blend of big laughs, nostalgia trips for adults, charming sight gags while managing to work in a subtle teaching lesson for children. Bottom line, we get full-length “Toy Story” quality in a 22-minute presentation.

The Blu-Ray extras also include three fantastic “vintage-style” commercials, but the standout is Combat Carl’s hilarious take on the “G.I. Joe” cartoon trademark “Knowing is Half the Battle” bits at the end of every episode.

Toy Story of Terror - Mr. Pricklepants, Buzz, Woody and RexMy biggest complaint? Less than a half-hour of “Toy Story” greatness sure does make you feign for more and will leave you scouring the web for any news of a “Toy Story 4.” And that announcement can’t possibly come any sooner for fans. For now, we’ll just have to be satisfied with this latest outstanding effort.

Rating: 9 out of 10

**I’m giving away a copy of “Toy Story of Terror” to one random reader. Just add a comment with your favorite Toy Story character and you’re automatically entered.