Monday, October 13, 2014

Five Night's at Napoleon's: 1st Night (Toy Story of Terror)


When I first saw advertisements on ABC last year for this special, I was intrigued. I was one of those who enjoyed the third installment in the Toy Story film franchise, and was curious about how/if they would continue the stories of Woody, Buzz and the rest with their new family. I also had my reservations, considering that some family Halloween specials tend to play it safe and any terror/horror levels would be so low as to not frighten younger audiences. Now here we are, a whole year later on this one, and it's time for my thoughts. Ladies and gentlemen, toys and dolls, Toy Story of Terror.

Synopsis (Potential Spoilers)

We start off with the gang watching an old black-and-white horror film on the portable DVD player in the trunk. Throughout, we get the usual "Don't go in there" style commentary from the gang, and Mr. Priklepants starts his usual film class lecture on horror film narrative tropes.
Frankly, I don't blame Potato Head for this.
During the trip, the car gets a flat tire, causing a few bumps in the trunk leading to Jessie being locked inside a small tool chest. While trapped, Jessie's fears start to build. What does she have to be scared of? You can either watch Toy Story 2 to get the full story on Jessie, or you can wait a minute to get the explanation.
Remember how Jessie was afraid of going back into storage in TS2?
That's right, this brought back those bad memories of when Jessie was abandoned all those years ago then left in storage by Al of Al's Toy Barn. Since Pricklepants and Trixie (The triceratops) didn't know, we got that explanation. Anyway, we then find the gang in Bonnie's (The new owner as of the end of Toy Story 3) suitcase as they check into a motel as they wait for the car to be serviced. Of course, we get more horror film narrative tropes being predicted by Pricklepants.
"BUM BUM BUMMMM!" Yeah, you're kinda taking the drama out of it with your predictions.
So the gang finds out that they'll be staying in the motel overnight, during a stormy night too I might add. After they get their room, Trixie gives the all clear and Potato Head decides to leave the suitcase to check out the amenities. Priklepants points out another horror trope, "The first one to leave always gets it."
Oh good, Woody feels the same way I do about this.
The rest of the special goes like this: The toys leave the suitcase one by one, Potato Head goes missing, the gang goes searching for him, they then start getting picked off one by one as Priklepants continues the narrative trope-telling, Jessie meets up with a Combat Carl toy who also gets picked off, then Jessie gets taken as well, and our culprit is the motel manager and his pet iguana. Turns out the motel manager takes toys (Lost or otherwise) and sells them online.
Dang, maybe I should have held on to my Woody toy if I knew he was worth that much.
So Woody gets packed to sell, and shortly afterwards Jessie is going to be shipped as well. Before he can pack her up, the manager is called away by a tow-truck driver who was sent to fix the flat tire on Bonnie's mom's car. At this time we also have the shipping truck here to pick up a series of packages, including Woody's. This leads to a rescue mission by Jessie, who has to overcome her fear of being trapped in a box by, you guessed it, being placed in a box herself. She frees a Transformers combiner and uses its box as her way in to save Woody.
"By Globatron's ghost, you shall be remembered." She's not dead, just boxed in.
Jessie's box gets in the truck, she conquers her fear, breaks out, frees Woody, and the two of them return to try and free the others before Bonnie checks out. At the last possible second, the curtain to the manager's office is torn off exposing the case to Bonnie and her mother.
"Are those my daughter's toys?" Busted!
The toys are reunited with Bonnie, they all leave, and the credits roll as per, you guessed it, Priklepants' trope-telling. During the credits, we're given a gag scene where the manager is being questioned by the police, the manager attempts to steal the squadcar and, well...
"Told you not to leave the keys in the car." "We got a runner."
Yeah, that's how they wrap up the whole thing.

Final Thoughts

After sitting through the whole almost 30 minutes of this, sadly I can't really say too many good things about it. While I do give props to them using the original voice cast out of Toy Story 3, the writing just felt bland and rushed. The "terror" elements were underplayed while they overplayed Jessie's fears, thus making the whole thing feel as if they tried too hard. The humor was weak due to the overuse of Priklepants's constant narrative trope telling, and the good jokes were too few and far between. If Pixar was given more time to try and flesh this story out it could have been better, but as it is this is very weak as a family Halloween special. Final score: 6/10

Congratulations, you survived night one! Join me in night two, where we look at another Halloween special.

Until the next review, have a good day!
-Napoleon Jonamite