Small Fry, 2011.
Written and Directed by Angus MacLane.
Featuring the voice talents of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Estelle Harris, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Angus MacLane, Teddy Newton, Jane Lynch and Timothy Dalton.
If you weren’t already looking forward to The Muppets, I’m going to give you yet another incentive to get along to the cinema. Immediately preceding the feature, you the audience, will be spoilt with the latest Toy Story short toon: Small Fry.
We see the wonderfully familiar Toys with their new owner at a fast food chain outlet, which just happens to be promoting a ‘Happy Meal’–esque Buzz Lightyear giveaway. The ever popular micro Buzz Lightyears are all sold out – all except the display model. When he sees his larger counterpart playing with the other toys he seizes an opportunity to replace his larger contemporary and assume his identity to finally be played with.
This replacement leads to an amazing sequence where Buzz stumbles upon a group counselling session for forgotten promo toys. There are great voice guest spots from Jane Lynch (Glee, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and a bunch of classic 80s and 90s toys that have been out of sight since their promotion’s passed. The new scenario is perfect for a temporary gag – and they load it up so you’re laughing pretty much constantly throughout.
The little family of Toys that we left at the climax of the 3rd film are still together and seeing them interact literally elicits stupid grinning immediately. For now I guess I’ll borrow some terminology from Billy Connolly and call it the ‘Tell us a joke we know” (must be read in his accent) syndrome. We all know and love these characters and seeing even a glimpse of them is fantastic. You love how they interact with each other and all their unique quirks – and yet it doesn’t in anyway sully your memory. It’s the perfect little taster.
Small Fry is the perfect warm-up for The Muppets – making the audience receptive to be so totally satisfied with the nostalgia of Kermit and the gang. Although I don’t know how they could possibly top Toy Story 3, I do love seeing those characters. And I’m sure you will too.
Blake Howard is a writer/site director/podcaster at the castleco-op.com. Follow him on Twitter here: @BLAGatCCO.