I’m 27 but, when it comes to Disney/Pixar films, age is just a number. I’ve grown up with the Toy Story franchise and there was no doubt I wanted to see the latest film in the series. Did it live up to the hype?
Toy Story 4 begins with an interesting flashback. Confusing at first, the sequence gives us some important clues about what happened to Bo Peep and her sheep – characters we have not seen since the first or second film. This comes in handy later on.
Fast forward, where we find Woody, Buzz and all their toy friends at Bonnie’s house. Remember, their original owner, Andy, gave the toys to young Bonnie when he left for college. Bonnie is now about to start kindergarten and Woody feels she needs a toy to take with her. All the while, Woody tries to discover his purpose as he “ages” in his life as a toy and sneaks into Bonnie’s backpack. He observes her sitting at a table by herself in class but the creative Bonnie makes a new toy/friend in Forky (Tony Hale).
Forky is trained to be thrown in the trash, so it’s up to Woody and the other toys to watch him so he won’t runaway from Bonnie. But when everyone goes on an RV trip, things get out of hand.
This was a tremendous end(?) to a franchise that has been near and dear to my heart practically my whole life. It had plenty of action, comedy (particularly from new characters Ducky and Bunny, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) and moments that would make the avid Toy Story viewer sentimental. The film even had a “villain” in Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) that you felt sorry for. Unlike Sid, Al, and Lotso in the previous films.
On the technical side, the film is visually remarkable. Particularly with the opening sequence and scenes at a carnival later on. Randy Newman’s score is, arguably, the best of the franchise. Newman not only includes the time honored staple, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” but “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy” a new tune from Chris Stapleton that will almost assuredly be a favorite at the Oscars.
One thing I did find surprising was the lack of Buzz, Slinky, the Potato Heads, and other members of our beloved Toy Story gang in the film. We do see them sporadically, but Woody is the primary focus of this one. It was also disappointing that Pixar didn’t include a new short film to precede its feature, breaking with a 23-year-old tradition.
Despite some small flaws, Toy Story 4 is yet another fantastic journey into the world of our favorite toys. With a brilliant script, stunning animation, and outstanding score it has everything for the young and young at heart.
My Rating: 4/5