A wonderful, albeit unnecessary, farewell to the world of Toy Story.
IMDB Synopsis: When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.
The gang is back! After what seemed like a perfect end to the Toy Story saga in the third iteration of the series, Pixar brings back Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and a marquee Bo Peep (Annie Potts) for the fourth movie in the series. And it’s delightful! While I didn’t think I ever needed to revisit the world of Toy Story again (partly because the other three are so good), I’m happy I did. The characters burst with life, the world is beautifully realized, and there are a few lessons to emotionally wreck the audience with. Oh, and Forky (Tony Hale).
The film feels inessential to the original storyline, but in that, it’s freed from its burdens. Toy Story 4 can have a lot of fun and that’s evident in the Forky character, who wonderfully employs Tony Hale talents to voice. A “toy” that is built by Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) at her first day of school out of “trash” like a spork, a pipe cleaner, a popsicle stick and some googly eyes. While he believes he’s trash, it’s clear that Bonnie has a connection with him (and the comfort he brought the first day fo school). Before too long, the gang is on a road trip—where Forky and Woody get separated—and the journey to unite against a racing clock is on! Sure, it’s formulaic, but Forky is so much damn fun.
If the first act is introducing us to Forky and the gang again, the second act is where we chew through the plot. it introduces the antagonist, a steel-hearted porcelain doll Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) looking for a voice(box). And we’re reintroduced to Bo Peep, who is now an independent, capable bad ass with some world experience under her belt. Eventually, Gabby Gabby captures Forky in a rouse to steal Woody’s voice box with the help of her downright terrifying ventriloquist doll henchmen. So, it’s up to Bo Peep, Buzz, newcomers Duke Caboom (a pitch perfect Keanu Reeves), Bunny (Jordan Peele) and Ducky (Keegan Michael Key) to try and rescue them. Queue the Toy Story hijinks, they are as inventive and beautifully rendered as anything we’ve seen from this world.
But Toy Story, and Pixar, are at their best when connecting emotionally. Sure, Duke Caboom’s death-defying motorcycle jumps look great, and Bo Peep is visually stunning compared to TS1. But the pixels pale in comparison to the dagger in the heart we get during Gabby Gabby’s end scenes or for the understanding we all feel deep down during Woody’s big emotional realization at the film’s end. The movie brings a lot of closure to a lot of storylines, new and old. In 2010, I thought the farewell of TS3 was perfect. But after seeing 4, I think we’re truly in a better place to say goodbye to Woody, Buzz, and the crew (and Forky!).
Highlights: Tony Hale as Forky. If you’re a fan of Veep or Arrested Development, you’ll get it. And the antics of Ducky and bunny (stay for the credits stinger) are in line with the lighthearted nature of the series.
MVP: Either Bo Peep or Gabby Gabby. Bo is so self-assured and independent, you love to see it. And the character arc of Gabby Gabby really takes you on a journey. She’s a far more compelling and complex antagonist than Sid (TS1), Al McWiggin (TS2) or Lotso (TS3).
Should you see it: I think everyone enjoys Pixar and Toy Story. It’s not essential, but you’ll enjoy it. 7/10.
Studio: Pixar // Original release date: June 21, 2019