Toy Story 4 could very well be a satisfying conclusion and the end of the line for the 24-year-old Disney-Pixar franchise.
The opening prologue starts out some nine years ago when the team comes together to save a toy. Unbeknownst to them, Bo Peep (Annie Potts) is set to be given away. It’s not an easy farewell for Woody (Tom Hanks) after all they’ve been through but all one can do is move forward in time. Meanwhile, Andy Davis grows too old for the toys as does kid sister Molly Davis. The new kid in town is Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw). As we catch up to present day, Bonnie is set to start kindergarten. Not one to make friends so easily, she ends up making one for herself thanks to an assist from Woody. Ever the loyal one, Woody always looks out for his children. Forky (Tony Hale) is the result.
Like every film, we get some new characters. Forky may very well be one of the odd ones. The moment he comes to life, he immediately makes a run for the trash can. This is one of those recurring gags that runs throughout the entire film. Forky believes he’s trash. It’s so much that Woody has to keep a close watch on him just so Bonnie’s happy. Woody may have been Andy’s favorite but this isn’t the case for new kid Bonnie. All the toys go for the ride during the family road trip but the trip soon becomes one of Woody’s biggest tests in leadership. When Forky jumps out the window, it’s Woody to the rescue. When he sees Bo’s lamp, it means reuniting with a long lost friend after several years. Bo isn’t there but Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) is. A few nightmare-inducing Bensons join in.
Other new characters include carnival prize veterans Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele). They make quick friends with Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) after he takes them on the road to freedom. The other new one to keep your eye out for is Canadian stunt performer Duck Caboom (Keanu Reeves). Keanu Reeves is having himself a year. Reeves absolutely owns the role.
I’m hesitant to label this film as the end of the line because you never say never in this industry. For all intents and purposes, I’m referring to the Pixar film as such. While I thought that Toy Story 3 worked perfectly as an emotional conclusion, Pixar had other thoughts in mind. I just do not see how they can outdo themselves should they go forward with another film. What’s left to accomplish that has not already done so?
Woody lived a full life with Andy. He’s not Bonnie’s favorite toy and hardly even gets picked anymore. This adventure at Second Chance Antiques and being joined by a resilient Bo shows that there may be something else out there. There’s just something in watching the film that leads one to believe that it’s the end of the line for him. It’s quite the swan song for the cowboy as his story comes full circle.
It would not be a Toy Story film without Randy Newman. The Oscar-winning composer contributes two new original songs: “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” and “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy.” The latter tune is sung by Chris Stapleton during the end credits. Speaking of end credits, there are a few scenes during the credits. There’s not really a post-credits scene but it’s worth it to stay for Duke Caboom’s final stunt.
The only film standing in the way between Toy Story 4 and an Oscar for Best Animated Feature is Disney’s Frozen 2. We won’t really know until how things will play out until later this year. The category didn’t get start up until 2001 so this is the second film that will compete in the category. I’m getting ahead of myself though. Let’s just enjoy the film for what it is at the moment.
If Toy Story 4 is the final film in the series, it would be an otherwise perfect conclusion. What a ride it has been.
DIRECTORS: Josh Cooley
SCREENWRITERS: Andrew Stanton & Stephany Folsom
CAST: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Emily Davis, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Blake Clark, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, Lila Sage, Don Rickles, Jeff Garlin, Maliah Bargas-Good, Jack McGraw, Juliana Hansen, Estelle Harris