Dan's Review: "Toy Story 4" a Beautiful End to a Wonderful Journey
Jun 20, 2019 05:30PM
● By Dan Metcalf
Tony Hale and Tom Hanks in Toy Story 4 - © 2019 Disney.
Toy Story 4 (Disney/Pixar)
Rated G. (I can’t remember the last time I put that in a review)
Starring (voices of) Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Emily Davis, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Jeff Garlin, Timothy Dalton, Jodi Benson, Jeff Pidgeon, John Morris, Jack McGraw, Laurie Metcalf, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, Betty White, Carl Reiner, Alan Oppenheimer, Patricia Arquette, Bill Hader, Flea, Melissa Villaseñor, Rickey Henderson.
Written by Stephany Folsom, Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter, Rashida Jones, Will McCormack, Josh Cooley, Valerie LaPointe, Martin Hynes.
Directed by Josh Cooley.
The original Toy Story (1995) is a pretty important film for me. Not only did it mark the arrival of CG animated features, but it also came out when my oldest kids were very young. One of my boys was a toddler at the time, and one of his first words was “Woody,” his favorite character. As the years past, the franchise improved with each installment, culminating with 2010’s Toy Story 3, a film that was nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards. TS3 felt like a great place to end things, providing a perfect landing spot for the story and character arcs among the toys and humans. I’ll admit that it felt like overkill when I learned that the Disney/Pixar folks were planning on a fourth film. To me, TS3 seemed so flawless that any attempt to augment or add to the adventures of Woody, Buzz, and all of their toy friends might diminish their story.
Toy Story 4 begins with a flashback to a time when Andy was still in possession of the toys and Woody (Tom Hanks) had to part ways with Bo Peep (Annie Potts). Moving ahead to present day, the toys are enjoying their time with Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw), the little girl who received the toys from Andy (Jack McGraw as a little boy and John Morris, the same person to voice the original character in TS1 and TS3). Woody, ever devoted to being his human’s best friend, is struggling with a lack of playing time as Bonnie experiments with other toys. Woody’s plight is further complicated with Bonnie begins preschool and creates “Forky” (Tony Hale) using a “spork,” pipe cleaners, plastic string, a tongue depressor, and plastic eyes. Forky becomes Bonnie’s favorite toy, and even though Woody feels neglected, he is forced to risk becoming lost while trying to save Forky after the new toy falls from the family RV during a cross-country trip. As Woody works to get Forky back, he runs into Bo Peep outside a rural antique shop, where the landed after being donated years before. The antique shop is ruled by Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), a ruthless talking doll with a defective voice box, hoping to overcome her technical shortcoming by swiping Woody’s fully-functioning one. Gabby and her creepy antique minions hold Forky hostage to get Woody’s attention. Meanwhile back in the RV, Bonnie and her parents search frantically for Forky and are planning to leave the RV campground near a traveling carnival before too long. Bonnie’s other toys, including Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Dolly (Bonnie Hunt), Rex (Wallace Shawn), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Mr. Potato Head (the late Don Rickles in his final role), Mrs. Potato Head (Estelle Harris), and many other toys. As Woody reunites with Bo Peep, he learns that she has chosen to become a lost toy, traveling the world helping other lost toys get picked up in playgrounds. Although she enjoys her newfound independence, Bo reluctantly agrees to help Woody save Forky from the antique store and recruits the help of Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) two stuffed animals sewn together, along with Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), a Canadian toy motorcycle stunt rider. As the quest to save Forky intensifies, all the toys must work together and risk all before Bonnie’s family takes off in the RV. Woody must also decide where his path should take him, now that he no longer enjoys “favorite toy” status. His decision will make audiences of all ages shed a few tears.
I have to admit that despite my qualms over adding another installment in the franchise, Toy Story 4 is a pure delight and a beautiful experience, just like TS3. It’s full of the same heart, humor, adventure and technological wonder of the previous films, with new likable characters. On top of all the stuff the Pixar folks didn’t mess up, they also managed to develop the main characters even more, adding meaningful depth to their experiences while sharing inspirational life lessons.
There is some finality to the saga of Woody and Buzz, although I wouldn’t bet against a new phase of the Toy Story experience. It’s been a great ride and one that I have enjoyed as an adult, watching my children grow into adulthood. If there’s one lesson to be learned from Toy Story 4, it’s that life does indeed move along with time, and that sometimes, it’s time to move on while holding dear memories of childhood. Toys may be lost, children grow, but our shared experiences and memories will last “to Infinity and Beyond.” In the meantime, I suggest you hold onto your kids and experience their childhood - with them - while you can.
"Toy Story 4" Trailer