The trilogy of Toy Story films is one of, if not the best trilogies of all time. Pixar has crafted such perfect films centered on a concept of toys coming to life when humans are not around. When a fourth was announced, people were understandably hesitant to see a perfect series possibly tarnished. Can Toy Story 4 continue this historic franchise in a satisfying way that fits right in with the other installments? Why of course they can, and they did. Pixar has made yet another masterpiece of a film that emotionally tears you apart through ups and downs as well as make both kids and adults feel wholesome inside, like anything is possible.
Toy Story 4 picks up relatively right around where the third left off but not before a brief flashback where we see the day Bo Peep was let go. The group we’ve have come to know over three films is now with Bonnie as their kid and are experiencing playtime. All except for Woody who is not played with as much. We see Bonnie call Jessie the sheriff at one point. One day at Kindergarten Bonnie constructs her own toy that is a spork made of googly eyes, glue, some wire, and a popsicle stick named Forky. From there Woody makes it his responsibility to watch over Forky and make sure he provides Bonnie with the love he provided Andy. Just when you think we had seen everything we needed to in the world of Toy Story, Pixar sucks you right back in. The plot of all of these films has been about how toys see the world and what they believe they must provide to children. They are parents in toy form. When a new toy is birthed in the form of Forky, you can imagine it leads to some pretty fascinating things.
Through three films one of the best things about this franchise is the character of Woody. He has never been a symbol of perfection, he has been through the ups and downs of emotions as he has learned the world. In the first film he is selfish and just wants to get rid of Buzz and in the second he doesn’t know who he wants to satisfy until the third act. He has always made decisions about himself first and learned to grow from that. He is a flawed character and that is what makes him a great character. In this film, Woody has the best character arc of them all. It is his story through and through. Woody struggles with purpose in this film. His whole life has been about making his kid happy, from Andy to Bonnie. When Bonnie starts moving on and playing with other toys, Woody makes it his purpose to find what makes her happy and give it to her and that happens to be Forky. This is the first film where Woody finally puts others before himself and fulfills his journey. The story puts him through a rigorous climb of emotion where ultimately, he finds his purpose and can finally be happy.
While Woody is the main focus, the screenwriters perfectly integrated many other characters that all serve a purpose. Buzz Lightyear, who has been with Woody since the start, learns to listen to his inner self and step up to be the leader the rest of the family needs. Him, Jessie, Ham, Slinky, Rex, Bullseye, and the Potatoes have all gone on their journeys and are a delight to see, but the film is not about them. Ever wonder what happened to Bo Peep? Well she returns in this film and is one of the best characters the series has ever seen. She has gone through the trials of being lost and finally found her calling. Forky is also great. He not only is comic relief, but a window into what a toy must think when they come to life. Watching him run to the trash over and over again is hilarious but always with a purpose. Keanu Reeves is a joy as Duke Kaboom and is a nice cameo in the story. They also add in Key and Peele as a duck and bunny that never fail to be entertaining. Every character in this film serves to the purpose perfectly well.
Toy Story 4 delivers on the emotionally charged journey it promised and fits in perfectly with the rest of the films. It is a film for kids and adults alike, but I feel adults with find something more in it then their children. The film perfectly makes you laugh and then makes you cry. It took me back to my childhood watching these films with both tears of joy and sadness. This film is worth the wait and an example of what the greatest films have to offer.
The Verdict – 5 out of 5 Stars