Toy Story 4, rated G
Nine years after the excellent Toy Story 3, the much-loved Toy Story series gets possibly its final chapter in this pleasing and heartfelt film, which is one of my favorite movies of the year thus far. I recommend the film for all ages, with the exception of very young children who could be frightened at times.
The film is directed by Oscar nominee Josh Cooley (Inside Out) in his directorial debut. The screenplay is written by two-time Oscar winner Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Finding Nemo), and Stephany Folsom. There are many credits for the original story, including Oscar winner John Lasseter (Toy Story), in his last project with Pixar. The film had a budget of approximately $200 million.
The film opens 9 years ago, and we see how Bo Peep, voiced by Golden Globe nominee Annie Potts (Corvette Summer) became separated from the other toys. We then see Andy, voiced by John Morris, giving the rest of the toys to Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw. Woody, voiced by two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Philadelphia) is dealing with the fact that he is no longer the top toy, as we see Bonnie playing more with the other toys. When Bonnie has her orientation day for kindergarten, Woody sneaks into her backpack to look after her. At school, we see Bonnie, with Woody’s help, create Forky, voiced by two-time Emmy winner Tony Hale (Veep). Forky is made out of a spork, with popsicle stick feet, pipe cleaner arms. He feels that he is trash and thus belongs in a trash can. Fortunately, Woody, looking for purpose, continually rescues him from the trash.
We then see Bonnie and her family leave in an RV for a one-week vacation between the orientation and the start of kindergarten. Again, Woody has to rescue Forky, who jumps out of the RV. As they walk along the road, Woody tells Forky about the responsibility and loyalty of toys to their owners, and that each toy has a purpose.
While they try to catch up with Bonnie and her parents, Woody and Forky pass an antique shop, and Woody sees Bo Peep’s lamp inside the window of the shop. They enter into the shop and encounter some ventriloquist dolls that will be frightening for young children. They also encounter Gabby Gabby, voiced by six-time Emmy nominee Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), resulting in Forky being captured. As Woody goes to get help, he runs into Bo Peep at an amusement park. Later, Buzz Lightyear, voiced by Emmy winner Tim Allen (Home Improvement), leaves the RV to go search for Woody.
Will Buzz be able to find Woody? Will Forky be rescued? What about Bo Peep?The animation in this film, as expected, is excellent. The music, like in the previous Toy Story films was composed by Randy Newman. All of the favorite toys are all here: Wallace Shawn as Rex, Joan Cusack as Jessie, Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants, John Ratzenberger as Hamm, Blake Clark as Slinky Dog, and two posthumous appearances by Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, and Bud Luckey as Chuckles the Clown. We are also introduced to a number of new characters: Forky, Gabby Gabby, the ventriloquist dummies all named Benson, the vain Duke Caboom, voiced by Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, John Wick), and two carnival toys – Bunny voiced by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) and Ducky voiced by Emmy winner Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele).
The only content issue in the film is that the ventriloquist dolls will be frightening for young children. There are many positive themes in the film, including finding your purpose, second chances, changing how you look at yourself, self-sacrifice, toys taking care of children, friendship, loyalty and rescue.
Overall, the film is funny and heart-warming. Reportedly, the ending was so emotional for Tom Hanks and Tim Allen that they were in tears as they read their lines. The film is dedicated to Don Rickles, who voiced Mr. Potato Head, and died in 2017, and Adam Burke, Pixar animator, who died in 2018.
Toy Story 4 is a film that families can go to and enjoy. It is one of my favorite films of the year thus far. And, don’t forget to stay in your seats all the way through the ending credits.