Toy Story is back and pulling heartstrings
Pixar’s Toy Story was released in 1995 and now 24 years later the whole gang is back together with a few new friends!
The release of Toy Story 4 is like seeing my old imaginary friends I had in childhood. A memory that warms my heart and feels like a hug. I had thought the trilogy and specials on ABC Family (now Freeform) was all I needed. BUT, Toy Story 4 has picked up and surpassed my memory from the past films. I have to be honest that what really had me squeal in surprised glee was the representation of seeing a lesbian couple, a dark complexioned Black child, an Asian child and so many others that were represented even in the background of previous films.
This is a film that could stand alone but if you haven’t seen the previous films will be a little confusing because of the friendships and status of the various toys.
No spoilers but we don’t get a Pixar Short before Toy Story 4 but it’s so full that I ALMOST didn’t miss it!
The opening of the movie was a reminder of the close relationship between Bo-peep, Woody and all the toy friends on a dark and stormy night. It set up the core story of the film between a toy and his loyalty to his boy. Seeing how the toys work together to hide from the children and find a missing friend was the best caper I’ve seen in while. We see Andy his forever child has grown up leaving behind Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) and all his old toys. But he still loves them so saved them for when he has his own child to pass them onto Bonnie (voiced by Madeleine McGraw). She loves her hand me down toys but as she grows older the toy dynamics change with who’s the favorite and who’s in the closet.
The pace really picks up when Bonnie has to go off to kindergarten. It’s a major change for her since she has a hard time making friends with the diverse group of kids (I squealed with the representation in that scene!). Being an ingenious child with the help of her toy Bonnie makes her OWN friend so we get to meet Spork (voiced by Tony Hale). Spork is surprising funny as he navigates being alive and not what he’s made off. The back and forth between Woody and Spork is funny as they go on an adventure road trip with the entire gang.
We get to see Bo-Peep and her sheep who are living a life of adventure and self-determination no longer ‘belonging’ to one child in an Old Western Town called Grand Basin with a traveling carnival for the festival. That’s where we meet an almost in mint condition Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her four quietly terrifying puppets that are her minions. When she meets Woody a plan comes together that will fulfill her dream. But she’s not the only new toy we find along the journey. We meet Duke (Keanu Reeves) the stuntman with a heart of gold with a tragic backstory <sniffle>. My heart was stolen by Duck & Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) who are the carnival prizes that can’t be won and are FURIOUS when they meet Buzz! Make sure you stay till the end for the easter eggs that will have you giggling!
I don’t want to give away too much because this movie really touched me. I have to admit a few tears came to eye at the end from seeing a kid that sort of looked like me. As well as our toys learning lessons that apply to kids and adults. It’s a film that hits all the emotional highs and lows of past films and TV specials. It’s quite magical and with Randy Newman returning as the soundtrack it really brings the sounds of the films together like a bridge.
I can’t strongly recommend enough to see this in theatre with your friends, kids and alone. It makes you really think because ‘Why are we here’ ‘What are we’ and ‘Can we break free from expectations’? It’s a lot but wow the journey was beautiful.
Toy Story can go to Infinity and Beyond with this film setting up a new animated film series with a new child AND toys!
This is cherry at the movies and I’ll be seeing YOU in the middle seat!
Production company: Pixar
Voice cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Joan Cusack, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Wallace Shawn
Director: Josh Cooley
Screenwriters: Andrew Stanton, Stephany Folsom; story, Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter, Martin Hynes, Rashida Jones, Will McCormack, Valerie LaPointe, Josh Cooley, Stephany Folsom
Producers: Mark Nielsen, Jonas Rivera
Executive producers: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich, Pete Docter
Production designer: Bob Pauley
Editor: Axel Geddes
Music and songs: Randy Newman
Casting: Natalie Lyon, Kevin Reher Rated G, 101 minutes