Toy Story 4.
It’s been awhile now since the Toy Story trilogy capped off with the incredible Toy Story 3. We all thought it was over, one of the finest trilogies in movie history. And then we get the news that there’s a Toy Story 4 in the works. What could this movie add? Is it worth it to go back to that mine for a fourth time? Let’s see!
When Toy Story 3 ended, our toys were passed on to a new child, a young girl named Bonnie. Woody (Tom Hanks) feels very protective of her and wants her to be safe, so he stows inside her backpack as she goes to her first day of kindergarten. She isn’t allowed to bring toys, so she creates one out of art supplies, resulting in Forky (Tony Hale), who isn’t meant to be a toy and has a major conflicts about his place in the world. On a vacation, Forky flees from the family’s RV, resulting in an adventure to find and bring Forky back to Bonnie.
In this adventure, Woody finds his old flame Bo Peep (Annie Potts), alongside new toys voiced by Keanu Reeves, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, and Ally Maki. The villain of the movie is a doll who wants something that Woody has (voiced by Christina Hendricks).
Returning voices for the other toys include Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Kristen Schaal, and more.
The question of “Should this have been made?” will come up, questioning if this movie will undercut the punch at the end of Toy Story 3. To put your mind at ease, this movie tackles issues and topics that weren’t addressed in the first three, so this does feel like a unique film. In general, it feels more like an epilogue to the third film. “What now?” How do the toys cope with moving on from Andy? Is it so bad to be a “lost toy” without a child? This movie also features themes of attachment to toys, when the girl Bonnie can’t go on without her favorite spork Forky. There’s some interesting and new ideas here that justify this movie’s existence.
For children, they’ll love this movie, though it does feature (like the other movies have) some terrifying moments, of dolls and ventriloquist dummies coming to life. Most of the movie though is bright and funny and I’m sure kids will love some of the new additions such as Key and Peele as two stuffed animals rescued from a carnival attraction and the stunt driver Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves). There’s plenty of repeatable jokes and lines that kids will love.
So this, like most Pixar films, manages to walk that fine line of appealing to both adults and children, there’s definitely something here for everyone.
When talking about the voice performances, Tom Hanks carries this film. Tim Allen’s Buzz Lightyear has a few moments to shine but is really just a supporting character here. Christina Hendricks gives us an amazing performance as Gabby Gabby, the “villain” for most of the film. There weren’t any poor performances, generally stellar stuff here. The most surprising performance was Tony Hale (Arrested Development, Veep) for his role as Forky. He is hilarious and he has an incredible back and forth with Tom Hanks, often stealing whatever scene he’s in.
I also need to applaud the visuals here, as this movie’s settings appear almost photo-realistic. There’s an antiques shop that especially feels real, full of details that make it seem incredibly authentic. Pixar is truly the best at what they do.
What didn’t work?
First off, there is no animated short before this movie begins, marking the first time they haven’t included one since the original Toy Story! I can only imagine something came up late that stopped the short from being included. it’s definitely a bummer.
Out of all the new characters, I think the most divisive pick will be Key and Peele’s stuffed animals. Yes, I laughed, but I also cringed. And I remain skeptical on how important their addition was to this film, as they are kind of dragged along throughout the plot with no real importance. I think the movie might have been a bit tighter without them.
And while I acknowledge the film offered something that the past three films didn’t, I still don’t know if this is a better ending to the franchise or not. I liked it, but would this franchise as a whole be better ending with Toy Story 3 instead? I don’t know but I’d venture to guess many people might still prefer how 3 ended.
This is a great movie, though I’d argue not as great as the first three entries. This feels like an epilogue, like a “what happened to…” story that adds to the mythology but isn’t ultimately necessary. If you have kids, they’ll love it but they may be traumatized by some of these horrifying dolls (I know I am). The addition of Tony Hale is inspired and Forky is a character I didn’t know I needed in my life until now.