Toy Story 4 - 2019
Director(s): Josh Cooley
Writer(s): Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom (screenplay)
Editor(s): Axel Geddes
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen. Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Joan Cusack and Ally Maki
Toy Story paved the way for new animation back in 1995, and it also marked the arrival of Pixar studio - a studio many see as the gold standard of animated storytelling. While I wasn't the biggest fan of 2010's Toy Story 3, it was an excellent conclusion for their story arch - so when the fourth was announced I could not help to roll my eyes at the news. Walking out of the film, I did not love it, as I did with the third, but I can see a lot of people enjoying this film as it has a heart and a purpose. Let's briefly talk about it.
The story picks up around two years after the event of Toy Story 3 - the toys, Andy donated to Bonnie, are adjusting to their new surroundings. Woody (Hanks) is no longer the leader of the group, and Bonnie has a new set of favorites that does not include him. When Bonnie goes to school for the first time, Woody tags along knowing how hard it can be on a kid being away from her home for the first time, where he witnesses her create Forky (Hale) out of the trash, and it comes to life. Forky instantly becomes Bonnie's new favorite "toy" even though he sees himself as trash - and it is up to Woody to guide him through his new life's purpose and help Bonnie be happy. When Forky escapes during a road trip, Woody must bring him back before it is too late - on his way back Woody runs into Bo Peep (Potts), now a lost toy, and must decide does he want to stay with Bo or return to Bonnie.
First off, I know it is a bit redundant at this point to say that Pixar's animation is groundbreaking or incredible when talking about any new movie from them - but I was honestly blown away by the visuals of this film. The different textures of each toy, the real-world environments they placed the toys, and the physics of the movements felt so real and layered that I kept saying to my wife how impressed I was with the film. Jut Bo Peep's reflecting porcelain skin against the light was incredible. As for the story, it does go a bit deeper into the existential crisis giving toys life - and in this case, creating new life out of pieces of trash. The question of destiny and finding your path and love in life has always been a theme in the franchise, so it is nothing new, but by having Woody face this a bit more head on it adds a bit more pathos to the conversation, even if it is repetitive.
Toy Story 4 is a beautiful addition to the franchise as it takes everything, they have built up through the first three films, and pay off with a poignant conclusion (I hope). The cast is hilarious as always, with Key, Peele, Reeves, and Hale being welcomed additions - as they steal the movie from the staple crop of A-listers. Toy Story continues to be a fantastic "kid's movie" that provides entertainment for the entire family and pushes the boundaries of storytelling and animation - continuing to prove why Pixar is still the gold standard.
Toy Story 4 is a Glass Half Full.
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