‘Toy Story 4’7/31/2019
It’s difficult not to draw the analogy between young adults moving out of home.
Full disclosure: I probably cried for an hour after watching “Toy Story 3.” So you can bet I had some strong opinions going into this newest feature from the TS gang. I mean, as far as conclusions go, “Toy Story 3” is hard to beat. From Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the gang accepting their seemingly impending fate in the fires of trash mountain (the dump) to their renewed purpose with Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw), the movie tugs at the heartstrings, as we learn that Andy’s toys are no longer his, and cuts deep with the realization that growing up means letting go.
Hold on a moment — I’ve got some dust in my eye while chopping an onion as I listen to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”
While I had hesitation before entering the theater, I’m happy to report that Pixar does not disappoint. Leaving the theater, I was beyond emotionally satisfied and thrilled to hear my fellow movie goers (all younger than age 7 with their parents) excitedly talk about the life of their toys. In terms of what to expect, it probably helps to think of TS3 as the end of Andy’s story and TS4 as the end of the toys’ story.
While essentially a road trip film, the story focuses on the toys finding their place in the larger world — a world beyond the toy chest and closet — for the first time. After being created by Bonnie at kindergarten orientation, Forky (Tony Hale) doesn’t know his place in the world, so Woody attempts to show him the ropes and teach him what being a toy is like. While doing so, the two are separated from Bonnie and the rest of the toys during the trip, where Woody learns more about the life of a toy — and that even lost toys still have life and purpose.
It’s difficult not to draw the analogy between young adults moving out of home. It’s also hard not to think this film is more for my generation than my son’s. The film captures the feeling of uncertainty but also the new found possibilities that leaving a place of comfort entails.
It is also, arguably, the funniest “Toy Story” film, largely due to a bevy of hilarious new supporting characters. Every joke seemed to land, leaving me and my fellow movie-goers in stitches. There are many different running gags present throughout the movie that are just great. Forky has a running joke where he throws himself in trash cans, because, as he states, “I’m trash,” which I found hilarious, and the joke didn’t overstay its welcome. Ducky and Bunny are two new characters played by comedy duo Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele, and they’re easily the funniest aspect of the entire film. They have hilarious one-liners and what-if fantasies that had the audience bursting out laughing. And I haven’t even mentioned Duke Caboom, voiced by “the Internet’s boyfriend” Keanu Reeves, who must bear the terrible torment of not being able to perform the same feats his television commercial claims. The abundance of comedy here is also an indication that this entry is far more lighthearted than the previous one.
But don’t let the constant yucks make you think there isn’t heart. It has its moments that are both heartwarming and have the ability to make you cry. Like a dear friend who moves far away, I didn’t realize how great it would be seeing Bo Peep (Annie Potts) again, as she brings some nice surprises to the table. Additionally, Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) was an interesting antagonist (I’m hesitant to call her a villain), especially as we learn about her and her motivations. She and Woody share similar philosophies when it comes to their purpose and caring for their kids. It’s a complex idea but presented in such a way that kids can understand and empathize with her true intentions.
With the litany of sequels and reboots, “Toy Story 4” stands out as one that didn’t necessarily need to be made, but one that proves it was worth being made. ♦