When news of Toy Story 4 was first announced, I was skeptical to say the least. Did we really need another Toy Story movie? Story Toy 3, which still makes me tear up every time I see it, had seemed to close the franchise almost 10 years ago with such heart and finality that there seemed to be no more stories left to tell with our favorite gang of talking toys. As I sat in the theatre, however, and the beautifully animated opening montage started to play with Randy Newman’s iconic “ You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” I instantly knew that Pixar had taken the care to make a movie that would introduce Toy Story to a new generation of audiences in a way that respects the first three films. I can happily report that Toy Story 4 is a welcome, but also a necessary addition to the franchise, filled with heart, maturity, and quite a bit of humor. Also, yes, this movie will make you cry at multiple points during the movie.
Toy Story 4 picks up where Toy Story 3 left off, with Woody( Tom Hanks), and Buzz ( Tim Allen) and the rest of the toy gang we have come to know and love such as Jessie, Rex, Hamm, and Slinky, passed off from Andy, who goes off to college, to the kindergarten- aged Bonnie. We are introduced to a new “toy” created by Bonnie named Forkie (Tony Hale), who is made during her kindergarten orientation with popsicle stick feet and pipe cleaners arms. We learn, however, that Forkie feels he is “trash” rather than a toy and constantly tries to run away. When Forkie runs away on Bonnie’s family road trip and gets lost, the toy gang must do all they can to rescue Bonnie’s new favorite toy.
The film also introduces new, welcome members to the Toy Story cast including Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele who play Ducky and Bunnie and Keanu Reeves who plays a Canadian Daredevil toy. These new additions add a consistently humorous side to the film that balances out the surprisingly mature themes and trademark Pixar heart pulling moments, of which there are many. Also reintroduced with a significant makeover in this movie is a character that adds a lot to the sense of nostalgia this film brings. (if you have seen any of the marketing you’ll know which character I’m talking about).
The only criticism that I have of the film is its underuse of the other toys such as Jessie, Rex, Hamm, or Slinky. While this is done to focus on telling the story of the main protagonists Woody, Forkie, and Buzz, it was disappointing to see these characters return after ten years and have so little screen time.
Never doubt Pixar in its ability to make a heartfelt and beautifully animated movie, with Toy Story 4 being no exception. Skeptics of this new addition to the beloved franchise should be skeptics no longer, as Pixar has succeeded in making a fourth movie that respects the original trilogy and takes the franchise in a fresh and interesting direction. If you are a fan of the Toy Story franchise, Toy Story 4 is a necessary watch.