"Toy Story 4" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
The "Toy Story" franchise ended perfectly with the third film, which showed Andy giving away his toys and leaving to start the next chapter of his life. It showed the circle of life for a toy, in a way, and allowed the main characters to move on to another child for the next few years. Therefore, when a fourth film was announced, it made fans beg the question as to why? A fourth film is definitely not needed, and fans started to worry that Pixar would ruin the franchise with this new adventure that Woody and Buzz will go on. Thankfully, Pixar does value the quality of their films, and they released a pretty good Toy Story film that not only introduces new characters for future projects, but ties up loose ends in a way that fans can respect.
The end-credits sequence shows Woody (Tom Hanks) and the gang starting to adjust to life in Bonnie's bedroom, befriending all of her toys and getting comfortable in their new environment. However, that is certainly not the case when the fourth film opens, and Woody is now in the closet with all of the other forgotten toys. Therefore, he devises a plan to go with Bonnie to her first day of kindergarten, not only to keep her safe, but also hoping she'll notice him again for the first time in forever.
I think this is a pretty good storyline to set up the events for the rest of the film, but at the same time, it irks me due to Andy's wishes at the end of the third film. You can tell the cowboy toy meant so much to Andy, and it's made even more evident by him hesitating to give Bonnie the toy. So, when she neglects him and leaves him in the dark and dirty closet, it really doesn't seem like a satisfying situation for our main character, especially after all of the events that transpired in the third film.
In kindergarten, Bonnie has a tough time making friends due to how shy she is, so she decides to MAKE a friend, which is mentioned multiple times in this movie. Using a plastic spork, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and popsicle sticks, she makes Forky (Tony Hale), a new toy who doesn't understand why he is alive and has a strange trash fetish. When Bonnie's family decides to take her on a road trip, it is up to Woody, Buzz (Tim Allen), snd the gang to keep an eye on Forky to make sure nothing happens to him.
I think Forky is perhaps one of the best things about this movie, and it is all thanks for Hale's hilarious performance as the new toy. The way he pronounces and enunciates words and how he talks in a very confused way is not only hilarious, but it makes you feel for the poor confused toy. At the same time, the animators create him in a way that is so cute and adorable, such as his eye movements and the way he walks and runs.
At the same time, I think him and Hanks have fantastic on-screen chemistry together, and it is easy to fall in love with their relationship. They are able to just instantly charm the audience with their witty dialogue and fun moments together. It reminds me of Woody and Buzz in the first film in a way, and I'm really happy the filmmakers added a character like Forky to this film. I believe this film would not have worked as well without it.
When they get to one of the towns on Bonnie's family stops, Bonnie and her parents enter an antique store, which Woody and Forky meet Gabby Gabby, an old-fashioned doll who wants to be loved by a child, but can't as her voice box is broken. Because of this, she kidnaps Woody and Forky, hoping to get Woody to give her his voice box. When Woody is rescued by old friend and former flame Bo Peep (Annie Potts), they must now figure out a way to rescue Forky and bring him back to Bonnie. While this is going on, Buzz also leaves the RV, partnering with new friends like Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele) to bring his friends back home.
Now, the best thing about this movie is the inclusion of old characters like Bo Peep and the addition of new characters like Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves). They are all such fantastic characters, and I really like how we see Bo Peep become this strong heroine who is usually shown saving Woody. At the same time, Duke and Ducky and Bunny are hilarious, and their respective voice actors do an amazing job of really bringing these characters to life.
Now, the thing I really don't like about this movie is the setting. The setting is usually the dark and depressing antique store, and that's just not the vibe you think of when you think of Toy Story. At the same time, it can easily make the viewer claustrophobic, and they had a huge opportunity to really explore all of these places rather than the antique store. It's a tad frustrating, but the same can be said for the villain of this film. She doesn't really seem threatening, and she's just kind of frustrating throughout the movie. When we get to the conclusion of this film, it does give a satisfying, yet bittersweet conclusion to this film, but the ending for the villain isn't justifiable or satisfying.
It definitely is an interesting choice to make another film in this franchise as the trilogy ended perfectly, but I do appreciate the filmmakers trying really hard to make another "Toy Story" film. Knowing the odds were stacked against them, they had a lot to do right to make this another great film in this decades-long series of movies, and I think for the most part, they succeeded in doing justice to all of the characters and wrapping up the storylines nicely.