I’m sure I am not alone in thinking that Toy Story 3 was the perfect end to a beautiful and incredibly moving trilogy, so when Pixar Studios announced a fourth installment, I admit, I was both angry and disappointed, thinking Pixar had turned to the cash-grabbing dark side. That being said, there was no question that, when the time came, I would be taking that trip to my local cinema to catch it on the big screen.
Thankfully, with the exception of a missing pre-show short, Pixar managed to deliver a thoughtful and heartfelt story once again. Forget the popcorn on this one, bring tissues. Lots of tissues.
What is particularly special about this instalment is that, although it is a continuation of the previous three films, it also works just as well as a standalone so, if you have not yet seen any of the other Toy Story films then A) Where have you been, B) Fear not, you can easily follow this story without the others, and C) Seriously, where have you been?!?!
The film begins by revealing the fate of Woody’s love interest, Bo Peep. Given her involvement in Toy Story 1 & 2, you would be forgiven for forgetting that Bo was actually Molly’s toy, not Andy’s, and nine years before the events of Toy Story 4, one fateful stormy night, Molly gives Bo away to a new owner.
Instead of jumping straight into the present day, the opening credits consists of a beautiful montage detailing the toy’s journey with Andy throughout his childhood and the passing of the torch, to Bonnie. Now, it may not be up there with the opening to Up but it definitely kicks you in the feels early on, especially if you are familiar with the whole story.
In present day, Bonnie is about to start Kindergarten and it is pretty fair to say that she is a little nervous. Woody, the ever dutiful toy, stows himself away into her backpack to make sure she has a good first day. During an arts and craft session, and with a little unseen help from Woody, Bonnie creates a new friend, Forky, who comes to life on the way home.
Although he is made from bits of trash, Woody understands Forky’s importance to Bonnie and takes it upon himself to teach him the rules and joys of being a toy but all Forky wants to do is get back into the trash basket. When Forky jumps out of the RV window during a road trip, Woody chases after him determined to bring him back to Bonnie, and bumps into an old friend on the way…
Okay, here’s a conundrum for you, despite being the central character in the previous three films, Toy Story 4 is the first film that feels like it has a truly Woody-centric storyline. As a result, you see very little of the original gang but meet a whole host of new friends; including the cute and vivacious Giggles McDimples (voiced by Ally Maki), Bo’s sheep Billy, Goat and Gruff and the defective Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks).
Keanu Reeves has been having a phenomenal year and his turn as Canadian stuntman, Duke Caboom, is just another feather in his cap. He turns what was supposed to be a cameo into a scene-stealing character that is sure to become a fan-favourite, if it’s not already.
Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele) are a pair of tough-talking carnival teddies, full of not-so-great ideas of how to help their friends. Plush Rush anyone? Whilst there ideas do channel a horror-esque feel, they truly are a pair of softies compared to the Gabby Gabby’s henchmen, a group of four ventriloquist dummies. I don’t know about you, but I find ventriloquist dummies to be creepy in real life but the animation of their movements took it to another level. Adults and children beware, they are truly terrifying.
Considering that I have found the last three Pixar releases (Incredibles 2, Coco and Cars 3) to be rather disappointing, and that I felt a fourth Toy Story was completely unnecessary, Pixar really had to deliver something special this time around, and they absolutely nailed it.
The animation is incredibly beautiful and well considered, cementing their place in my mind as the best animation studio out there. Not only did this film look amazing but the story was solid and comedy was used to great effect.
Where Toy Story 3 was the perfect end to Andy’s story, Toy Story 4 offers great closure to Woody’s story, and as I said at the beginning, you will need tissues. I was full on ugly crying at the end of this film, so you have been warned.
Already seen it? Let me know what you thought.