Big love for the tiny toys
BUZZ Lightyear, get ready to get punk’d. The famous Toy Story space explorer is replaced by a pint-sized impostor in the Pixar short Small Fry, which opens next Thursday with The Muppets.
Blame it all on toy envy as a Happy Meal-type toy at a fast-food restaurant yearns to break out of his glass display case to play just like a real toy. He kidnaps Buzz Lightyear in an attempt to take over his play-filled existence.
‘‘It’s like The Prince and The Pauper tale for toys – except one of them happens to be three inches tall,’’ says writer/director Angus Maclane.
The life-reversal forces the real Buzz Lightyear, voiced by Tim Allen, to deal with a support group for discarded, unloved fast-food toys.
‘‘These toys’ existence is about being really popular before the meal and then being totally forgotten about – and sometimes they don’t even get played with,’’ Maclane says.
While Buzz doesn’t fit into the group, he has trouble exiting.
‘‘There’s something funny about having the action hero have to deal with something very mundane like escaping from an awkward social situation. To me, that’s funny,’’ Maclane says.
Allen is joined by Toy Story regulars Tom Hanks (voicing Woody who, naturally, immediately notices the switch), Joan Cusack (Jessie) and John Ratzenberger (Hamm) for the seven-minute short. Buzz Lightyear and Woody (above) and fast food toy Evil Emperor Zurg (right) in Small Fry
‘‘They know their characters so well at this point,’’ Maclane says, noting the first Toy Story was released in 1995. Tim just snapped right into it. But I bet he thought the concept was pretty strange.’’
Pixar director Teddy Newton was the ‘‘perfect match’’ for the mouthy Mini Buzz character, while Maclane voices several discarded mini-toys such as T-bone and Super Pirate.
Glee’s Jane Lynch makes her first Pixar appearance, as the narcissistic support-group leader Neptuna.
‘‘Jane has an appealing way of being demeaning to people but where you still like her – even though she’s kind of horrible,’’ Maclane says. ‘‘Right away, she got the character.’’ The short film’s message is simple – don’t forget those little toys.
‘‘You just have to give these guys a little bit of love,’’ Maclane says.
– BRYAN ALEXANDER, USA Today.
Small Fry opens with The Muppets on January 12.