Friday, June 28, 2019

Movie Review: "Toy Story 4" (2019)

Director: Josh Cooley
Year: 2019
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

While on a road trip, Woody must rescue Forky, his kid Bonnie's new handmade toy, and get them back to their RV safely before Bonnie and her parents leave town.

Movie still from Pixar's Toy Story 4 featuring Woody and Forky walking in the dark on the side of the road
"Woody, I know what your problem is. You're like me. You're trash!" (Image Source)
Pixar's "Toy Story" series has been making us all feel bad about getting rid of our toys for the last 25 years. "Toy Story 4" is the latest installment in the animation studio's long-running franchise. This sequel is directed by Josh Cooley in his feature film directorial debut. Before helming this project, Cooley worked as a storyboard artist on other Pixar features including "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille," and "Up." The toys that formerly belonged to Andy now belong to Bonnie (Madeline McGraw), and Woody (Tom Hanks) is no longer the favorite. He is often left in the closet as Bonnie opts for other toys. During kindergarten orientation, Bonnie made a toy that she calls Forky (Tony Hale), who has been crafted from a spork, some googly eyes, glitter glue, pipe cleaner, and popsicle sticks. Woody finds a new purpose in keeping Forky safe since Forky believes that he is trash and is always trying to throw himself away. When Bonnie and her family go on a road trip before the school year begins, Forky escapes the RV, which sends Woody on yet another adventure to try and find him and get him back to Bonnie before they move on to the next town. However, a surprise encounter with an old friend may interfere with Woody's seemingly simple task.
All of the Toy Story 4 tous, including Buzz, Trixie, Rex, Hamm, and Dolly, come alive in Pixar's latest installment of this beloved franchise
"I don't leave toys behind, not now, not ever." (Image Source)
BigJ and I admit that we were not looking forward to "Toy Story 4" despite that we loved the previous three installments. We recently rewatched the whole series and feel like it came to a perfect conclusion with Andy giving his toys to Bonnie in "Toy Story 3." It is complete in nearly every way. We couldn't possibly imagine where the series would go from there. Now, the franchise has moved into the realm of existentialism, discovering who you are, and finding your purpose. Forky is created from trash, so he believes he is trash and must learn that he has a new meaning as Bonnie's favorite toy. Woody, on the other hand, lived for Andy his entire life, and now that he is with Bonnie, he must adjust to his new role and find a new direction in life. Of course, we don't know if we want to go down the rabbit hole of existentialism as it relates to "Toy Story" because if toys were truly conscious beings fully aware of their own existence with feelings, wants, needs, and personal identities, we would all be guilty of some pretty horrific atrocities against toys, but, we digress.

Despite going in feeling wholly unnecessary at the start, "Toy Story 4" quickly proves itself as yet another terrific entry into the stellar franchise. The film boasts everything we have come to expect from Pixar and this franchise. It has breathtaking animation and visuals, phenomenal voiceover work by the likes of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Annie Potts, and the always fabulous series newcomers Keanu Reeves and Tony Hale, and a compelling, emotional story that is relatable to children and adults alike. Kids will love Forky's zany facial features, Duke Caboom's wild adventures, and probably won't be phased by the creepiness of Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), while the grown-ups in the crowd will appreciate the nostalgia, the heartstrings-tugging-moments, and the slightly meta-humor. There are a lot of themes going on here, but one of the main ones is empty nest syndrome. Woody faces the problem of not knowing what to do with his life now that he is no longer needed. Many people who grew up with the original "Toy Story" may be facing this conundrum since the series is now 25 years old. Where "Toy Story 3" three felt final for Andy's journey, "Toy Story 4" feels like a grand send-off for Woody.
Woody the cowboy, voiced by Tom Hanks, and Bo Peep, voiced by Annie Potts, reunite in Pixar's 2019 sequel Toy Story 4
"I didn't want to sit on a shelf and wait for my life to happen." (Image Source)
"Toy Story 4" may not be our favorite entry into Pixar's long-lasting, wonderful series, but it is surely a welcome surprise and a stunning visual treat. For the love of all we hold dear, though, please don't make a fifth installment or a spin-off. Let it end of a high note.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.4/10
RT Rating: 98%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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