Whenever you think of Disney/Pixar and their long list of successful and game-changing films, the Toy Story trilogy (now with a 4th… should it be considered the Toy Story “Saga”?) stands as their crowning achievement. It’s a franchise so many kids literally have grown up with, and have gotten all of the benefits and life lessons each one taught them. In this new story, Woody and the gang are introduced to a new toy created by their new kid, Bonnie. This toy, “Sporky” (played by the always funny Tony Hale) runs away, leading Woody on a new adventure to find him and return him to Bonnie. Old and new friends are made in this new addition to the franchise as Woody will discover, there is more in this big great world besides being a toy for a kid, and I had a great time watching it!
Much like the previous installments, Toy Story 4 tells a toy-centric story with real, human themes throughout the story. It may not be as overt as the messages were before, however, I enjoyed the more subtle storytelling of director Josh Cooley. It has a lot of similarities to Toy Story 3 when it comes to the overall message, but is expanded on and cleverly told in a way that kids and parents of any age can relate to and see this as a film “made for them”.
We are also re-introduced to Woody’s “significant other” Bo Peep, who gets a lot of really fantastic character revamp that everyone will appreciate, If Bo Peep was not a favorite in the previous films, she will quickly steal the hearts of everyone watching it. The main character in this film is no doubt Woody, who, for the first time in his toy-life doesn’t really have a driving purpose to do what he does. I loved how Tom Hanks chose to portray him in this film, giving the character serious themes and a compelling story between himself and Bo Peep. Woody has always been a focal point of all the previous films, so it makes sense to add to this series that they would focus on him, and I really enjoyed that.
There are many new characters introduced that shine very bright whenever they are in the film. Tony Hale as Sporky was hilarious and worked great, you have Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key both stealing the show in a couple moments that in my theater definitely earned the most laughs. Keanu Reeves plays “Duke Kaboom”, as well as the films main antagonist “Gabby Gabby” played by Christina Hendricks. All of these new characters were great in their roles and again, Toy Story somehow is able to tell this great story while also being able to balance these new characters and keep a lot of the original characters involved.
The animation is breathtaking (like Keanu Reeves is), the story is heartfelt and well told, but I felt myself still going back tot he questions I’m sure most audiences will have to go into the 4th installment of what was supposed to be a trilogy, “was this a needed and necessary addition?” For me, I would consider Toy Story 4 to be an epilogue to Toy Story 3, with a deeper dive into that films overall messages but focusing mostly on Woody. You might consider calling this “Woody & Bo” rather than Toy Story 4, but to me this is far better than a needless addition, in fact, I would say this is just as strong a film as the previous 3 and by that merit it does earn it’s keeping to be in this series of films. Definitely, go check this out kids and parents alike will love it.
I’m giving Toy Story 4 an 8.5/10