Sometimes even toys need a little play time. Unfortunately, Barbie’s Ken screwed up the vacation plans. That’s the premise of Pixar’s new animated short, Hawaiian Vacation, which picks up with the characters of Toy Story 3 as they settle into their new life with the little girl Bonnie.
Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Rex and Co. have no Toy Story 4 on the horizon, but for now, Disney and Pixar are keeping them active as a sort of animated repertory company of performers, play-acting different scenarios for a series of short films. In this exclusive clip from Hawaiian Vacation, which will premiere before Cars 2 in June, Ken and Barbie take the lead, trying to recreate the tropics in their new owner’s bedroom after the two dolls fail to stow-away with Bonnie on a family getaway. See the clip below:
Director Gary Rydstrom, an Oscar-winning sound designer, previously directed the 2006 Pixar short Lifted, about an alien who is none-too-coordinated with the tractor beam as he tries to abduct a sleeping man from a farmhouse. He talked with EW about what to expect from the Toy Story bunch from here on out.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you get all your voice actors back? Michael Keaton as Ken and Jodi Benson (the voice of the Little Mermaid) as Barbie?
GARY RYDSTROM: Everybody. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Don Rickles … My life is complete because I got to meet Don Rickles. I desperately wanted him to make fun of me in our dialogue sessions, but I feel I need to do something more with him, to give him another shot at insulting me.
Maybe the ultimate insult is to not be insulted by Don Rickles?
[Laughs] Can you think of anything worse?
Who’s the most obscure Toy Story character to return in this one?
My favorite is Chuckles the Clown, voiced by Bud Luckey, who’s a longtime Pixar animator and artist [Luckey directed the 2004 bouncy-rabbit short Boundin']. So Chuckles gets to sing a romantic Hawaiian love song, written by Mark Mothersbaugh [best known for the '80s techno band Devo and countless Wes Anderson film scores.]
What inspired the Hawaiian theme? Was the Pixar brain-trust longing for a getaway too?
We wanted to figure out a story that would include everybody, which is crazy because it is under six minutes. It takes place in Bonnie’s room — Woody, Buzz and Rex and everybody is in on it. Ken wants to take Barbie on a perfect vacation to Hawaii by stowing away in Bonnie’s backpack, but they get left behind in the middle of winter while she goes off without them. Ken kind of screwed up. [Laughs] Barbie probably does all the planning, and he tried to plan this one.
What motivates the other toys to recreate the islands for them?
All the toys see how devastated Ken is. As toys who get played with all the time they have a pretty good imagination. When it’s time for a little play-acting, they’re pretty good at it. And all the toys have different abilities and skills. Woody becomes kind of the leader, like whatshisname on Love Boat.
Captain Stubing! And Slinkydog becomes a porter at a hotel, and Mrs. Potatohead becomes a great tour guide. Mr. Pricklepants plays a couple different roles, since he likes to be theatrical. It was fun to think of the things they could do to make the magic of Hawaii come alive in Bonnie’s room.
It’s like they’re theater actors in a repertory company, performing all these different roles.
It is. If you think about these toys, they get played with and it’s like putting on a show. Here they get to put on a show for their own purpose. They know they’re not in Hawaii, but Ken really wanted to take Barbie on this romantic trip to Hawaii because he was hoping they could have their first kiss. He’s got some pretty strong motivation. The other toys in the room are willing to play along.
Another Toy Story short will be shown before the new Muppet movie in November. Are you involved with it, and can you say anything about it?
They haven’t announced what that one’s about, but the idea is to try making more. There are several stories being worked on, different shorts in the pipeline. We discovered with these characters that it’s not necessarily easy to come up with stories for Toy Story shorts, but it certainly is fun and there’s a rich vein of material.
Is there a chance of a Toy Story 4, or if you answer that will I only hear the sound of John Lasseter kicking down your door and dragging you away?
[Laughs] I don’t know if there’s any longterm plan. Everybody feels Toy Story 3 was the perfect end to that trilogy of films, but what happens down the road with features hasn’t been decided. Short films don’t go into the big, grand thematic stories of the features, but we get to spend time with the characters. Also, there were great characters introduced in Toy Story 3 that are wonderful. Mr. Pricklepants, whom Timothy Dalton plays, and Jeff Garlin does Buttercup, Bonnie Hunt does Dolly, and Kristen Schaal does Trixie [the girl dinosaur]. We kinda get to know them in Toy Story 3, but we got to use them in Hawaiian Vacation and give them more to do.
So we can count on seeing many more Toy Story stories in the short-format?
The characters are too cool to let go. Shorts are a great way to keep them alive.