Lost then found
Pixar brings a satisfying end to a great story
Toy Story 4
Directed by Josh Cooley
Screenplay by Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom
Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks
Rated G, Playing June 21
When I discovered that the Toy Story series was getting a sequel, I was highly skeptical. However, I can now say for sure that Pixar has done a great job in ensuring the Toy Story movies stay strong on their own as well as together. I welcome Toy Story 4 as a great sequel and a probable end to the saga of Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).
From the trailers, we know there is a struggle between Woody and Forky (Tony Hale) as Woody attempts to help the arts-and-crafts spork adjust to his new life as a toy. Bo Peep (Annie Potts) returns as a badass independent woman, thriving in life as a lost toy. And of course, the usual gang is still around and kicking to fuel this sequel with nostalgia and good times.
What really amazes me about this movie is the diversity of emotions it evokes while still staying true to its core as a children’s movie. The kids will be easily entertained by the frantic shenanigans of all the toys running around on screen, but they’ll also experience a few scares at the hands of Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her dummy henchmen, many laughs at the antics of Forky as he stubbornly declares his trash allegiance over his newfound toyhood, and maybe even a few tears closer to the end of the film. Toy Story 4 is not a silly happy-go-lucky camp all the way through, which is definitely refreshing in the realm of children’s movies and not unsurprising coming from Pixar.
Pixar has also always done a great job in keeping the content of the film intelligent enough such that it is truly family-friendly, meaning neither the parents nor the kids will be bored while watching the film. While the kids beam at Bo Peep’s awesomeness and Buzz Lightyear’s and Duke Caboom's (Keanu Reeves) daredevil stunting, mom and dad will appreciate the nostalgia while exploring the dynamics of a toy’s life: how having or not having a kid can influence a toy’s circumstances.
The writing of the characters, especially in the character development of Woody and Forky, is another thing to be appreciated. I don’t think I would have ever found a spork with pipe cleaner arms and popsicle sticks for feet endearing, much less be invested in whether or not such a creation accepts being a toy, but dang it, Pixar really got me there. With Woody, it’s just interesting to see how he adjusts to life after Andy. He spent at least ten years being Andy’s favorite toy and being the leader of his toys before being passed on to Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw), who, as you can guess, does not form quite the attachment to the old cowboy ragdoll. With this in mind, you could better understand Woody’s quest to help Forky adjust to make Bonnie’s childhood a worthwhile one.
I also want to give mad props to all the voice actors who really give life to all the characters. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen have always shone in their roles as Woody and Buzz, but Annie Potts really breathes new life into Bo Peep, transforming her from the dainty ornamental doll from the first two movies to the strong lead character that she is in Toy Story 4. Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key as Bunny and Ducky are also hilarious and welcome comedic relief, even if their harebrained schemes of attacking people make you question their ability to be good with kids.
Nostalgia washed over me when Toy Story 4 opened with the cloudy wallpaper in Andy’s room and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” played in the background. It is just one of those indescribable feelings that warms your heart. If you grew up with the Toy Story films, I would highly recommend watching Toy Story 4 just to enjoy seeing your favorite toys up on the big screen one more time as the story is brought to a satisfying close.