A hilarious and heartfelt fourth instalment that will delight you at every turn, TOY STORY 4 is a rare thing – a sequel just as good as the original.
Wow. TOY STORY 4. What a film!
In the cinematic universe of sequels, I think this fourth instalment of the now-iconic Pixar characters is a rare thing – a movie that’s as good as the original. It certainly made me laugh, cry, cry again and come out of the cinema after 1 hour and 40 minutes with a warm, fuzzy feeling that everything was right with the world. What more can you ask for?
With an abundance of fabulous new characters and new situations, probably the key part of this new film is Forky – superbly voiced by Tony Hale. And who is Forky I hear you ask? Well, he’s a put-together ‘toy’ which Bonnie, the younger sister to Andy of the previous three movies, has made in her kindergarten class. With some ingenuity, a pipe cleaner, a spoon, a fork, and some other accessories, Bonnie has been creative and once Forky is assembled, he very quickly becomes Bonnie’s most beloved friend. All of which makes Woody (voiced of course by the inimitable Tom Hanks) and the rest of the gang of toys we know and love (Buzz Lightyear, Mr and Mrs Potato Head, Rex the dinosaur, Hamm the pig, Slinky dog) feel distinctly left out. And when Forky is introduced to the gang, he suffers an identity crisis, believes he’s nothing more than trash and is in no way a toy to be loved and played with.
Events then take a disastrous turn when, on a road trip with Bonnie and her family, Forky jumps out of the car to throw himself away and Woody, knowing Bonnie will be heartbroken to lose her new friend, goes after him. And so, Woody takes Forky under his wing and vows to get him back to Bonnie. So far, so marvellously inventive as the three preceding movies. But when Woody and Forky arrive at the RV park where the family will be staying, the fun and imaginativeness of this new film really begin to fizz. Spotting his long-lost friend Bo Peep’s lamp in the window of an old antique shop next to the park, he and Forky venture inside to find her and are soon introduced to the other inhabitants of the store.
It’s here that director Josh Cooley presents more of those fabulous new characters I mentioned. Firstly, Woody and Forky meet a doll called Gabby Gabby (beautifully voiced by Christina Hendricks) who with her attendant puppets, The Bensons, know everything to do with the store. A helpful toy Woody thinks when Gabby Gabby offers to take them to Bo-Peep. But her real motive for helping them is soon made clear – she wants Woody’s voice box as hers is broken; only then does she believe that a child will purchase her. Suddenly Bonnie and her mother enter the store and so Woody and Forky seize the opportunity to escape. However, Forky is captured by Gabby Gabby and once Woody has reached the outside, he realises that Bonnie’s RV has gone. All alone, Woody knows he can’t return to Bonnie without Forky. But how can get him back from the clutches of Gabby Gabby? Enter Bo-Peep, not quite as Woody remembers her though. She’s become a kiss-ass adventurer since we last saw her, helping toys be reunited with their owners. And with her friends, a miniature policewoman called Giggles McDimples (delightfully voiced by Ally Maki) and the Candian stuntman Duke Caboom (a genius casting move of the legend that is Keanu Reeves “Woah”!) they will help Woody find Forky and get them both back to Bonnie.
Buzz (the inimitable Tim Allen), meanwhile, is searching for Woody on his own and his journey lands him as a prize in a booth at the nearby carnival. It’s here that we meet the last of the terrific new additions to the cast – and what additions they are. Ducky and Bunny are a pair of fluffy toys, hilariously voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. I thought they were fabulous and they had me in stitches. Alongside Duke Caboom, Ducky and Bunny are some of the very best creations in the Pixar canon, so bravo to Cooley and all his colleagues for raising the artistic bar once again in this film.
The denouement of this particular instalment rumoured to be the last in the TOY STORY saga is as full of wit and imagination as you could ever hope to see in an animated movie. And, of course, it involves chases, laughter, tears, surprises and reconciliations. As I left the cinema with that warm, fuzzy feeling, I felt complete having been thoroughly entertained. I can only hope you feel exactly the same when you watch TOY STORY 4.