Toy Story 4

Animation Review

My brother and I went to see “Toy Story 4” tonight, which came out almost three weeks ago. Originally, this was supposed to be released last year and “Incredibles 2” was supposed to be released this year. However, after test screening “Toy Story 4,” Tom Hanks said in an interview that the audience at the test screening hated it, so they had to redo 25% of the movie. Brad Bird had to speed up production to finish “Incredibles 2” for it to be released last year, so certain things that he wanted in the movie couldn’t be added. However, if they were to make an “Incredibles 3,” Brad Bird said that whatever footage he couldn’t use in the second movie will be added in the third installment. However, enough of all that production talk. How is the movie you may ask?

For many people, the main question going into “Toy Story 4” was, understandably, “Why?” In every respect, there was no reason for Pixar to make another sequel to the great “Toy Story 3,” which nine years ago ended the franchise on a great note. How many movie trilogies can you think of where the third movie was the best? (Peter Rainer said in his review, “Except for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” I can’t think of any.” I can, though.) Making a fourth anywhere as well would look like it would be impossible.

Rainer said, “Unlike “Toy Story 3,” “Toy Story 4” is not a masterpiece, but I was almost relieved about that.” It doesn’t put you through the emotional heap the way the last one did, but it’s continuously creative, funny, amusing, and heartfelt. To put it simple, it’s a lot better than it has any right to be. It’s more than good enough to make it worth making.

The new film starts with college student Andy’s toys now under the ownership of little Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw. Woody, reprised by Tom Hanks, overlooks the collection, but he’s no longer a favorite toy.

He still finds it necessary to take care of Bonnie. When she fearfully leaves for her kindergarten orientation, he hides inside her backpack and secretly helps with a project where she creates a toy out of a plastic spork, pipe cleaners, wooden craft sticks, and huge eyes. Her beloved Forky, voiced by Tony Hale, becomes her new favorite toy, despite that, created together from trash can items, Forky has other plans. The concept of a “toy” is foreign to him. He keeps running into trash cans because that’s where he thinks he belongs.

Woody happily announces to his friends that Bonnie has literally “made a new friend.” However, then Forky goes missing during a road trip in an RV to an outdoor carnival, ending up locked in a China Cabinet in a local antique store. Woody goes to rescue him, with help from friends, like Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, respectively), Canadian stunt motorcyclist Duke Caboom (a hilarious Keanu Reeves), and Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who comes back to the gang after happily enjoying her independence. (Her sad separation from Woody is shown at the beginning of the film.)

Their main enemies are Gabby Gabby, voiced by the hot Christina Hendricks (who you might remember as Joan Holloway on “Mad Men”), the antique store’s Ginger doll, and her ventriloquist dummy henchmen. Gabby wants Woody’s voice box. Rainer is right when he said, “Her scenes have an eeriness that at times seems more “Twilight Zone” than Disney, but that’s appropriate.” Whether we are humans or ornaments, toys are not always our friends.

What gave “Toy Story 3” its deep emotionally was the sad realization that even favorite toys are eventually donated. More so than ever, Woody has to come to that realization in “Toy Story 4.” If a toy is there to be loved by a child, what then is its reason for living if it is no longer loved?

Director Josh Cooley and his writers, Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom, don’t sugarcoat the emotions, which is just as well. Rainer said, “I’m not a big fan of being hit over the head with life lessons when I go to the movies. Instead, the filmmakers have concocted a comic wingding, full of marvelous slapstick and sight gags, into which the more heartfelt moments are subtly woven.” All of this makes this film, which also was the fact for the other “Toy Story” movies, but especially “Toy Story 3,” as watchable for adults as for children.

It should not be debated that wonderful children’s movies, almost by meaning, are also wonderful for adults. Rainer said, “Who would relegate, say, “E.T.” or “The Black Stallion” or Alfonso Cuarón’s “A Little Princess” to the realm of kid flicks?” The main question of “Toy Story 4” has a meaning for everybody: What happens to us when we no longer feel needed? Rainer answered, “If the “Toy Story” franchise were to end right here I would be more than happy, but then again, I felt this way nine years ago with “Toy Story 3.”” Never say never.

In all honesty, I think this film is the best of the “Toy Story” franchise. I really thought this was the most emotional and most funny of the films. If you haven’t seen this film and you love the other “Toy Story” movies, you should definitely see this one. If not, watch the first three first or any of the other you haven’t seen before you see this film. You will love this, I promise. If you have kids, show them this franchise because everyone will love it. Especially with comedy legends Carol Burnett, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Betty White in the cast, there’s more reason to see this. This is easily another one of my favorite animated and Pixar movies. However, I have to say to Pixar to stop making “Toy Story” sequels. I don’t think there is anymore that needs to be told about this franchise. Just go on and create original movies or sequels to films that need sequels. Just leave the “Toy Story” franchise alone because this is the definitive cap on the franchise. Tom Hanks said to Ellen DeGeneres that this was would be the last film, Mark Nielsen did not rule out a possibility of a fifth film.

At the end of the credits, the film paid tribute to the late Don Rickles (which I applauded when his name came up) and animator Adam Burke.

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