Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation (2011)

2012 #50a
Gary Rydstrom | 6 mins | Blu-ray | 1.85:1 | USA / English | U / G

Hawaiian VacationPixar have always attached original short films to their feature releases. As part of what seems to be their increasing franchisation, however, they’re not always wholly original now: Hawaiian Vacation was the short attached to Cars 2. And it’s the first in a series of Toy Story shorts: the second, Small Fry, appeared in cinemas before The Muppets; the third, Partysaurus Rex, comes with Finding Nemo 3D later this year.

The simple, sweet story is that the toys’ new owner (I forget her name) is off on holiday, so Ken and Barbie attempt to stowaway for a romantic break, only to hide in the wrong bag. Being the kind and caring friends they are, the other toys set about giving them a Hawaiian holiday right there in the bedroom.

Hawaiian Holiday — another time when British English bests American English right there. But I digress.

When I first heard they were doing these shorts I was trepidatious. Toy Story is in many ways Pixar’s flagship franchise, and after the Huge Event that was Toy Story 3, was it really wise to dilute the experience with a series of mini-adventures? Was it not better to leave it as a series of three big movies, each one a grand and special event? After all, the more you do something, the less special it becomes. That’s one of the reasons Toy Story 3 works — we hadn’t seen these characters we love for 11 years. It’s why Toy Story 4 would be a disastrous idea — after such a perfect ending, why revisit them?

SurpriseHawaiian Vacation doesn’t exactly allay these fears — its very existence is proof of that — but at least it’s an entertaining piece in its own right. It succeeds partly by not overreaching itself — this isn’t Toy Story 4 and it doesn’t try to be. It reminds us of the characters and gives them each a story beat, while remaining funny, entertaining and sweet, all in under six minutes. Cars 2 can’t manage that in 106.

These Toy Story Toons may eventually add up to a dilution of Toy Story’s specialness, just another example of Pixar’s increasing predilection for the creation of sequels and spin-offs. But if they’re as good as this, at least we’ll have fun while they do it.

4 out of 5

Toy Story 3 comes to Sky Movies Premiere today at 4:15pm and 8pm, and continues until Thursday 16h August. You can read my review here.

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