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Toy Story 4 Review

June 21, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Toy Story 4 Image Credit: 2019 Dinsey/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
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Toy Story 4 Review  

Directed By: Josh Cooley
Written By: Stephany Folsom and Andrew Stanton
Runtime: 100 minutes
MPAA Rating: G

Tom Hanks – Woody
Tim Allen – Buzz Lightyear
Annie Potts – Bo Peep
Tony Hale – Forky
Christina Hendricks – Gabby Gabby
Keegan-Michael Key – Ducky
Jordan Peele – Bunny
Keanu Reeves – Duke Kaboom
Ally Maki – Giggle McDimples
Madeleine McGraw – Bonnie
Joan Cusack – Jessie
Bonnie Hunt – Dolly
Kristen Schaal – Trixie
Blake Clark – Slinky Dog
Don Rickles – Mr. Potato Head
Estelle Harris – Mrs. Potato Head
Jeff Garlin – Buttercup
Timothy Dalton – Mr. Pricklepants

In many ways, the existence of Toy Story 4 is gobsmacking. The previous Toy Story sequels are basically cinematic anomalies. It’s rare for sequels to match or surpass the quality of the original. And yet, Toy Story 2 defied all expectations, especially considering it was originally planned as a direct-to-video release. Toy Story 3 arrived in 2010, over 10 years since the last film, and it was still fantastic. Third movies of other film franchises are rarely as good as Toy Story 3.

The idea of a Toy Story 4 was a bit tough to comprehend at first for a few reasons. First of all, the third movie had a nice sense of closure and finality to it. The toys and Woody said goodbye to Andy, and another young child inherited the main characters. At least the toys had a future together. Second, the third movie was so good, that it’s difficult to imagine a fourth film could be even half as good. Third, a fourth movie risks ruining the cinematic excellence and near perfection of one of the greatest trilogies ever. Well, Pixar has pulled it off once again and defied expectations. At this point, it’s probably foolish to doubt Pixar when it comes to Toy Story sequels. Toy Story 4 is a worthy sequel and installment in what was already an excellent film trilogy, and longtime fans of this world and these characters should not be disappointed.

The film begins with an interesting prologue. Toy Story 3 essentially lampshaded the character of Bo Peep with a throwaway line. The prologue for Toy Story 4 recounts what happened to Bo Peep (Potts) and the decision that a deeply conflicted Woody (Hanks) was forced to make. Nine years later, Woody, Buzz (Allen), Jessie (Cusack), and the rest of the gang are still living with young Bonnie as her toys. Woody feels a bit left out since he’s not getting played with much lately. However, he still feels responsible for taking care of Bonnie’s emotional well-being, since she’s very scared about starting kindergarten. Woody ends up tagging along with Bonnie for her kindergarten orientation and helps give her some supplies for arts and crafts, which Bonnie uses to create a new friend, a toy, out of a spork she names Forky. Forky is given life and becomes the latest member of the crew.

Unfortunately, Forky has trouble grasping his new existence, believing he’s nothing more than literal trash. Much to Woody’s chagrin, Forky constantly attempts to return home to waste baskets and trash bins. Woody decides to take it upon himself to babysit Forky for a family road trip with Bonnie and her parents. The misadventure ultimately leads Woody and Forky to a local antique store that’s home to an old-fashioned doll, Gabby Gabby (Hendricks), with a broken voice box. Gabby Gabby longs to be played with by the perfect child, but she needs a working voice box to make it happen. Woody conveniently possesses a working voice box. After Forky gets kidnapped by Gabby Gabby and her creepy ventriloquist dummies, Woody needs help to rescue Bonnie’s treasured toy. The journey unwittingly reunites him with Bo Peep, the one who got away, who has been living on her own for many years. Once again, Woody’s reunion with Bo Peep brings into conflict his own desires versus his loyalty to protect and look after Bonnie.

Building a story around Woody and Bo Peep was a smart move, especially since her fate was a big question mark during the third film. Tom Hanks and Annie Potts are more than up to the task, delivering all-time fantastic vocal performances. Annie Potts shows off much more dimension to the character of Bo Peep than in previous films. And it’s not just because Bo Peep has become a “strong, independent female,” but how the film depicts the depth of her connection to Woody.

Gabby Gabby and her dummies are played off as the dastardly villains at first; but even with Gabby Gabby, director Josh Cooley and writers Stephany Folsom and Andrew Stanton provide her with a pleasant amount of dimension. Gabby Gabby simply wants to experience the same love and joy that most toys want.

Toy Story 4 is the funniest and most humorous movie in the series. Many new characters are introduced and featured throughout the film. While a good deal of the original cast members and toys are not given much screen time, the new characters are effectively still the best parts of the film. Keanu Reeves might even be more perfectly cast as Duke Kaboom than he is as John Wick. This is probably one of his best performances ever, even if it is a vocal one. The new plushie stuffed animal duo, Ducky (Key) and Bunny (Peele), are also perfectly cast and have some of the film’s most hilarious gags. Tony Hale’s Forky is another great addition to the cast, thanks to his evolving bond with Woody, which leads to some incredibly clever dialogue exchanges.

Despite all the humor, that does not at all detract from the incredible emotions and bittersweet poignancy Pixar mines from an exceptional cast. Woody’s reunion with Bo Peep is amazingly well done. It’s executed in a way that’s believable for both characters and their histories. The ultimate payoff eschews any doubts about Toy Story 4‘s existence.

Toy Story 4 sets a new standard for the few film series that exceed a third installment. In recent years, when it looked like Walt Disney Animation has experienced a new Disney Renaissance, it’s nice to see that Pixar can still display the ability to breathe new life into a film franchise that started almost 24 years ago in 1995.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Toy Story 4 surpasses all logic and expectations, but perhaps that's the wrong way to look at it. Considering the quality of the previous two sequels, this is exactly what should have been expected. Despite Toy Story 3 seemingly ending the trilogy on a close to perfect note, Toy Story 4 more than justifies its existence by exploring the relationship of Woody and Bo Peep. Toy Story is no longer the perfect film trilogy. It's now the perfect film quadrilogy. And one more thing: don't rush out of the theater, and stay through the entire closing credits.