MOVIE REVIEW: Toy Story 4
In Pixar's fourth venture into the Toy Story franchise, we find our favorite toys living a happy life with Bonnie, the kid to whom Andy bestowed them all to at the end of the last movie. Well, they're all happy except for Woody who is finding himself less and less played with. But, when her first day of kindergarten brings her great anxiety, Woody takes it upon himself to go with her to hopefully reduce her fears. During her first day of school, she creates a new "toy" out of a spork named Forky (Tony Hale) and it becomes the most important toy to her. Forky does not believe himself to be a toy and is constantly wanting to throw himself in the trash.
But, Woody tries to keep Forky from diving into the trash and it ends getting them into a whole lot of trouble to leads Woody to seeing a bigger world than the one in which he has been living that includes encounters with Gabby-Gabby (Christina Hendricks), a doll that wants desperately for a working talk box; a couple of carnival plushies named Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele); and Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), a toy dumped by his kid after one playing.
I found Toy Story 4 to be very entertaining and fun. In the film, we find out what happens to Bo Peep (Annie Potts). I won't spoil it, but I found her character to be quite delightful. She is smart and turned into an excellent strategist. Yet, she remains warm and loving.
I thought Forky was an interesting addition to the toys as something that had been created rather than purchased like the others. Through him, we learn what it means to be special to someone. Hale brings a lovable innocence to the character.
I enjoyed how they transformed the antique store into a creepy house of terror with Gabby Gabby as a gang boss with her scary quartet of ventriloquist dummy lackeys. Reeves was an unexpected pleasure as Canada's greatest stuntman. He brought great humor to the character in only a style that Reeves could deliver. Look for a cameo by another toy important to Pixar who serves as the doorman to a secret nightclub in the antique store!
I have to admit I was expecting a little more from Key & Peele. I wanted more of what we got from the initial trailer in which they are riffing on "to infinity and beyond." I imagined them being the animated versions of their classic valet characters from their show, but, instead, got something a little safer. I still enjoyed their performances overall, though, especially as they dreamed of daring plans to help Woody.
There was some wonderful messaging in here about the need for being wanted (or the want for being needed) and fears of abandonment. Woody finds himself at a crossroads with Bonnie who is increasingly leaving him in the closet rather than playing with him. He is immensely loyal to Bonnie, but, at the same time, sees this new world opened up to him by Bo Peep.
When it boils down to it, though, did I think this film necessary? No. To me it did not meet the emotional resonance of Toy Story 3. I'm not saying that it didn't have its emotional moments, but I just wanted to leave these characters on a triumphant high. And, instead, I felt this film left us a little melancholy.
Again, I did enjoy the film though. I just found it a fun adventure that didn't really add or subtract from the overall saga.