“Toy Story 4” stars Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, and Tony Hale. Released on June 21, 2019, the film has Woody and the gang embarking on a road trip adventure.
The film features the directorial debut of Josh Cooley, who is known for writing the screenplay for “Inside Out” and served as a storyboard artist for films like “The Incredibles”, “Cars”, and “Up”. It is the fourth installment in the “Toy Story” film series. More than 20 years ago, an animation studio known as Pixar was born and quickly made history by creating the first full-length computer-animated motion picture. That motion picture was “Toy Story”, a film that showcases toys coming to life when no one is looking. It became a huge turning point in the world of animation, causing a huge shift from making traditional 2D animated films to making CGI-animated films. Not only that, but it was also responsible for putting Pixar on the map. The film’s huge success lead it to spawn a massive franchise that consists of sequels, video games, spin-offs, theme park attractions, and of course, toys. That film made Pixar what it is today: a studio that provides quality storytelling and fantastic animation for both kids and adults. The world of “Toy Story” has been a part of my life ever since I was born. It was one of the first few films that sparked my inspiration in filmmaking as well as animated movies in general. So it’s no surprise that I was excited to reunite with my childhood friends on the big screen once again. “Toy Story 3” wrapped up the trilogy on a high note when it was released nine years ago. However, the Pixar team love the characters so much that they decided to make at least one more installment before they move on to their original projects which are slated for next year. Question is, was it necessary? Based on my experience watching it, my heart says absolutely.
One of the biggest aspects of the “Toy Story” films was its storytelling. Throughout the films, we watch these characters grow and experience life’s big changes just like we do. They also represent the importance of being a toy. “Toy Story 4” was able to continue that trend with brilliant results. Another thing you should know about the story was that it also focuses on Woody (Hanks) and the gang being introduced to Forky (Hale), a spork that was made into a toy by their new owner Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) and has an existential crisis, as well as Woody’s internal fear of becoming a “lost toy” and his relationship with Bo Peep (Potts). It’s a film that both reflects our own experiences with our toys and provides a fun and heartwarming journey for both kids and adults. It isn’t without its problems, however. The film tends to retread a couple of familiar elements from time to time, and the ending would’ve been perfect if it expand one character’s role a bit more before that. Aside from those very small flaws, I loved the film’s story for its irresistible charm and emotional beats that made its predecessors so special in the first place. Another big aspect of the film was the characters, both old and new. First off, the cast did an excellent job with their vocal performances, most notably Hanks and Potts as Woody and Bo Peep, respectively. The old characters were just as lovable and relatable as ever, even though most of the minor characters have smaller roles compared to the last three films, but it was the new characters that were able to automatically win me over, especially Forky and the plushie duo Ducky and Bunny (voiced by Key and Peele). These characters have the right amount of humor that’s both clever and hilarious. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pixar team decide to make a series of shorts based on those characters. I would also give them credit for how they treated another new character Gabby Gabby (voiced by Christina Hendricks). Without spoilers, I would say that the way they develop this character was respectable and refreshing, in my opinion. The animation was also fantastic in terms of showcasing its colorful and exciting world from a toy’s perspective and its character designs. There’s really nothing else I could say about it, to be honest. Pixar is just that dang good when it comes to the animation. Randy Newman returned once again to compose and write new music for “Toy Story 4”, and all I could say about it is that it brought me back to the good old days of watching the “Toy Story” films as a child. I can never imagine a “Toy Story” film without Newman’s classic song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”, playing in the background. It’s a timeless piece of music that will remain in my heart until the day I die.
Overall, “Toy Story 4” is a brilliant continuation (or conclusion) to the most beloved and thought-provoking animated franchise of all time. Thanks to its stellar, yet imperfect, storytelling, its marvelous animation, its hilarious brand of humor, and its fun characters (both old and new), the film marks another solid example of quality over franchise-milking. In other words, this sequel knows how to continue the franchise that fully develops the characters, unlike “Secret Life of Pets 2” which is just made to sell merchandise and make money. This is a must-watch for those who grew up watching the other “Toy Story” films as well as those who love Pixar’s other works. To infinity and beyond!