I’ll admit that back when Toy Story 4 was first announced, I was one of those people shouting and raving that we didn’t need a fourth entry because of just how damn perfect the ending was to Toy Story 3, and that surely this would just be a cash-in on one of the most popular franchises in cinema… Though as time passed I found myself reflecting on Pixar’s history and remembered that this isn’t a studio that will just go for an easy cash grab, and surely they would only ressurect our beloved Toy Story if they had a decent story they wanted to tell. So which is it? Cheeky cash grab or classic Pixar perfect storytelling…?
I want to start by saying that all the returning voice actors including Tom Hanks as Woody, Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear and Joan Cusack as Jessie all shine in their roles, which will come as no surprise if you’ve seen the first three movies, but I want to talk about the new characters. Toy Story 4 isn’t looking to grab people with those sweet nostalgia feelings (Though there is a lot of mention of the now absent Andy but that can be forgiven); instead it looks to introduce a whole host of new characters who are all given the limelight ahead of some old favourites. If you’ve seen any marketing for this movie then you will already have heard of Forky. Forky, voiced brilliantly by Tony Hale, is the latest addition to Bonnie’s toy collection with the difference being he was created by Bonnie (Or as Woody charmingly puts it, Bonnie literally made a new friend) using nothing but trash… This makes for a hilarious character that can’t get his head round being a toy, and just wants to return to the trash can from which he came.
A lot of the film’s main plot centres around Woody’s awareness of how important Forky is to Bonnie, and finds himself in a constant battle to keep Forky in one piece as he constantly tries to return himself to being garbage while Woody tries to convince him of his worth. There’s a good message being told here that shouldn’t go ignored, even if it is somewhat forced at times. Other plot points include a welcome return of Annie Potts’ Bo Peep, with an explanation of her absence in the last movie and how exactly that has effected Woody. We are also introduced to the film’s villain, Gabby Gabby – A doll who lives in an antique store and is wheeled around by what may be the most horrifying characters to ever be put into a Pixar movie, the Goosebumps-inspired ventriloquist dummies jointly known as Benson. I won’t spoil anything, but Gabby Gabby and the Benson’s goal in this movie is actually quite dark. I loved that the filmmakers dared to slightly dip into some horror elements here – I’m not saying that you can’t take your kids as there’s nothing actually that scary, but I enjoyed the slight tonal shift even if it was just a nod to parents in the cinema. Not to worry though, this villain’s arc is anything but horrifying, and reminded me of what makes Toy Story truly special.
Right I’ve waited long enough to talk about my favourite part of Toy Story 4… Ducky & Bunny!! Oh my good god did I love this pair. Up until we first see Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s outrageously funny duo, the film had its laughs but the comedy goes up to a whole new level with these two. I won’t spoil any of the gags as:
A: You should see it for yourself and…
B: I wouldn’t be able to do them justice!
The chemistry they have with Buzz is fantastic, and once you add Keanu Reeves’ Duke Caboom to the mix it becomes a laugh-per-minute joy fest! I didn’t want my time with these characters to ever end and they had me smiling ear to ear until the credits rolled and even more so during so hang around for that!
Speaking of the end, I was surprised with the way they decided to end this. Of course I’m not going to dive into spoilers, but I wasn’t expecting something as definite as what they went for here. I’ve got a feeling that the direction they’ve gone with may split audiences but I personally loved it. It serviced the characters perfectly and was a great finish to what was an emotional rollercoaster of a story. It’s hard to judge whether or not there will be a fifth instalment to the franchise, I’d say perhaps not, but don’t rule it out.
So cash-grab or Pixar-perfect storytelling? Of course it’s the latter! If you’re one of those people still questioning why there’s a fourth addition to this story then set aside your worries as Pixar have knocked it out the park yet again. Yes Toy Story 3 had the perfect ending, but I now see that as the perfect ending to the Andy trilogy with Toy Story 4 serving as a fantastic continuation of these characters stories as they move on from being Andy’s toys. Did this movie need to happen? No. Am I happy it did? You bet partner.
I give Toy Story 4 a: