We screened Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story 4 during the press junket at Walt Disney World this past weekend. It has been 9 years since Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the gang got together for Toy Story 3 and I didn’t expect to ever see a fourth installment. The third movie felt very final, as Andy went off to college but made sure that his beloved toys were going to be in a loving home with a preschool girl named Bonnie and her family. (There is a flashback in the film to Andy and the toys at the beginning of Toy Story 4, and we see Bo’s ending to her story with Woody before present day).
Bonnie is still that little girl at the beginning of Toy Story 4 – but about to enter kindergarten, something she is very apprehensive about. Woody wants to make sure that Bonnie is okay for her day of school orientation, and joins her by stowing away in her backpack. And he helps her – again without her knowledge – to “make” a new friend. A craft project becomes a new toy with the name of Forky (voiced by Tony Hale), even though this spork does not want that title. He just wants to be in the trash. He is a terrific new character, one of many. Forky is a lot of fun when on screen and in the relationship he has with Woody, who spends a lot of time trying to convince him that he is now a toy.
Bonnie’s family takes a summer RV road trip before Bonnie officially enters kindergarten. Forky has become Bonnie’s favorite toy, but ends up getting away. Woody leaves the RV to go after Forky, and eventually finds him. Their adventures take them to an antique store looking for Bo Peep (her lamp is in the window). After entering the store, they meet a doll named Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), who seems right out of The Twilight Zone. She reminds me of dolls that I had as a child, except for the part where it seems like she and her ventroloquist henchmen could harm you. Gabby Gabby, Benson (one of the ventroloquist dolls) and her other sidekicks seem pretty creepy, so take that into account. Other Toy Story films have had elements of potentially scary moments for kids – for example, Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear – so this isn’t more or less than that, just very different. I actually found her to be the most compelling new character out of some very strong choices. Gabby Gabby wants Woody’s voice box, because she does not have one. And it seems she will do anything to take it from him. Woody escapes the store but ends up leaving Forky behind.
Through this, Woody eventually reunites with Bo Peep (Annie Potts) – he has not seen her for years. Bo has been out on her own unlike the other toys, and is much more independent than she once was. With her cape, she almost seems superhero-like at times as they go find Forky.
Toy Story 4 is a welcome adventure, one that feels very different to me than the previous three movies. In the end, it is very much Woody and Bo’s story, though Forky often steals the show. Buzz Lightyear, a new character named Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves in a fun comedic turn), and many more characters are also major parts of the story. Gabby Gabby seems to be misunderstood by the end of the movie, although I still wouldn’t be ready to trust her.
Tom Hanks has said he was very emotional filming the ending of Toy Story 4. Some quotes I consider spoilers were part of the press conferences, so I’m going to not give the ending away. But what I will say is that I feel with the longstanding characters as well as many unique new ones, that another Toy Story film wouldn’t be out of the question. And we will see Forky continue his adventures in shorts on Disney+. So I didn’t cry at the end of the film, it just feels like we’ll see more stories in the future. Toy Story 4 does run a range of emotions from funny (I laughed a lot) to sad to a little scary and more, it’s a very strong outing for a fourth Toy Story installment. Did we need another film? No, the three completed an arc. But director Josh Cooley and his team found a new story to tell, one that doesn’t feel at all like a repeat of the other films with an abundance of new, unique characters. I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to seeing it in the theater again on opening day.
There are a lot of Easter eggs in the Toy Story 4, I didn’t catch many of them but that will mostly have to wait for the home video release.
Mousesteps Grade for Toy Story 4: A
Check out my friend Amber’s article for another review on Toy Story 4!
Here is a little fun we had with Woody and Forky, Bo Peep, Buzz and Jessie at the Toy Story 4 junket in Toy Story Land. I don’t know if Woody will be out with Forky again, but hopefully!