Big love for the tiny toys

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

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.

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