Toy Story 4 is the newest entry in the beloved Disney-Pixar animated franchise that started in 1995. The film follows Woody and the gang as they go on a road trip with their new owner Bonnie. On the road, they meet old and new friends and discover new lessons about the world and what it means to be a toy
This movie’s story is definitely very enjoyable and likely one of the most creative that the filmmakers at Pixar have brought to the table yet. The trailers make it seem like the film is going to be little more than a rehash of the Buzz and Woody storyline from the first movie, but that couldn’t be less accurate. Yes, the existential themes are still there, but they are handled in a different way. The part of the film in which Woody chases the new toy Forky only takes up about ten minutes of the runtime.
The character development in the movie is also very good. Obviously, it is great to return to the world and spend more time with Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang, but more often than not, it is the new characters that steal the show. Forky is destined to be this year’s smash hit. Although it may seem at first like Disney was trying to take over yet another industry — the disposable utensils business — the character feels completely honest and necessary for the storyline. Tony Hale is perfectly cast in the role, channeling a similar character to his Buster role in Arrested Development, but with some changes to make it feel fresh.
Other welcome additions to the gang include Duke Caboom, the daredevil stuntman putting up a facade voiced hilariously by Keanu Reeves, and the hilarious duo of carnival toys Ducky and Bunny, voiced by comedic pair Key and Peele. Furthermore, the film’s new antagonist, Gabby Gabby, is an extremely complex character that will teach younger viewers a lesson about compassion and empathy.
With this movie, the filmmakers at Pixar have delivered what is perhaps their most hilarious film yet, as there are so many laugh-out-loud moments in the movie that you may find yourself rolling in the aisles. Forky does get a majority of the laughs, but everyone gets their own chance to shine. The film clocks in at only an hour and forty minutes long, and it breezes by because of the nonstop humor, but also never feels rushed. This movie also seems to have a darker sense of humor compared to the other films, although there are still lots of light and bouncy laughs.
As you would expect, there are more than a few moments in the movie where many audience members will be trying to hold back their tears. Granted, the film is never able to reach the levels of the heart-crushing climax of the trash compactor scene in Toy Story 3, but there are still plenty of heartfelt moments that can and may make you tear up. Hopefully Disney-Pixar has the wisdom to leave this series here and only pursue spin-offs, as this seems to be the perfect conclusion to the series.
Thematically, this movie proves itself to be necessary and more than an attempt by Disney to cash in on one of the more lucrative properties in their repertoire. Even though Toy Story 3 seemed like a satisfying and perfect conclusion to a trilogy that so many of us loved, this film manages to feel like a needed post-script. This movie builds on top of what the last one had to say about goodbyes and talks about what it means to move on. In a way, Woody’s relationship with Andy and now Bonnie can be seen as parental-like in nature, and the film does an excellent job of showing how parents eventually need to learn that they can’t protect their kids from everything.
Of course, Pixar’s animation is as phenomenal as always. From the brilliant design of the settings to the level of detail put into the characters, this movie shows how magical the art of animation truly can be. It is impressive the level of emotion they were able to get out of a spork with googly eyes.
Overall, Toy Story 4 was a thoroughly impressive animated adventure, and hopefully, send-off to these characters that we love so much. This may very well end up being one of the most successful movies of the summer and has cemented itself as the movie to beat in this year’s Oscar race for Best Animated Feature.
Toy Story 4 hits theaters on June 21.