Toy Story 4 – An Animated Masterpiece

A beautiful coda to the Toy Story Trilogy, Toy Story 4 provides a perfect epilogue for these beloved characters with strong emotional beats, powerful themes and hilarious moments. To use a sports analogy, Toy Story 4 is the equivalent of Michael Jordan coming out of retirement after his first 3-Peat, just to begin another 3-Peat.

This franchise is almost untouchable with perfection followed by perfection. Toy Story 4 provides a beautiful coda to the franchise.

9 years after the conclusion of Toy Story 3, most audiences were under the assumption that it would be the finale of this story, and for good reason. Andy grew up, passed his favorite toys to a new child in Bonnie and the toys were left together in a happy ending and with a second chance. Those words, a second chance, ended up being the basis for what would end up being Toy Story 4.

Toy Story 4
Woody

Disney and Pixar have always said they wouldn’t make another Toy Story film unless it was for an absolute good reason. With a host of script rewrites and changes, it took a while for the film to truly get off the ground. The conclusion was a mix of multiple scripts and screenplays, which somehow, blend together beautifully and match well with the theme and arc of the trilogy.

Back are the fan favorite characters audiences grew up with. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen return as Woody and Buzz. Joining them are the regular gang of Joan Cusack as Jessie, Wallace Shawn as Rex, John Ratzenberger as Hamm, Blake Clark as Slinky Dog and the archived voice of Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head.

Most notably, the series returned Bo Peep to the story, after a notable absence in Toy Story 3. Played by Annie Potts, Bo absolutely shines, literally and metaphorically, in the story. She provides a true north for Woody, who has been struggling with his place in the world ever since his era with Andy ended.

Toy Story 4 picks up just a couple of years after Toy Story 3. Most of the toys have adjusted to their new life and roles with Bonnie. Woody, however has lost his status as top toy. Here, audiences get to see truly how much Woody has grown over 4 movies and 20 years. The character, who once expressed huge amounts of jealousy when Buzz became Andy’s new favorite toy, is now supportive, if not a little obsessed, with making sure Forky is safe and with Bonnie. Toy Story 4 drives home the point of this being Woody’s overall story. His obsessiveness with being Andy’s favorite in the first film, the discovery of his importance and legacy in Toy Story 2, his eventual growth to lead the toys to Bonnie and leave Andy in Toy Story 3 and finally his journey of discovering himself again all tie together so beautifully that I might write a whole piece about it in the near future.

Forky, voiced by Tony Hale, is a new addition to the story and a makeshift toy created by Bonnie. Convinced his life is nothing more than trash and has no true place in the world, Woody makes it his mission to make sure Forky knows his worth to Bonnie. A family road trip quickly takes the toys to new locals and higher stakes as they come to a local carnival. This leads them to an emotional, hilarious and thrilling adventure of self discovery. Forky isn’t the only new addition to the Toy Story mythos,
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele play the hilarious pair of Ducky and Bunny, while superstar Keanu Reeves plays Duke Caboom.

Self discovery and second chances are the primary themes of the film for multiple characters. Woody and the gang have all gotten a second chance at life through Bonnie, while characters like Bo Peep have made their own second chance and new life. Likewise self discovery for characters like Forky and more importantly Woody end up providing the most emotional moments and beats.

While not as comedically perfect as Toy Story, or as gut wrenchingly emotional as Toy Story 3, Toy Story 4 is very content being an epilogue story. When looking back at all 4 films, the first 3 each feel very weighty and have a strong sense of their own identity, while Toy Story 4 is aiming to bridge all the films together and provide a coda to the story of Woody. Regardless, the film does an absolutely excellent job and provides a more bittersweet, definitive ending to the story that began in 1995.

That being said, you never know when it comes to the Toy Story franchise. Where audiences are used to seeing films and their sequels come out every few years, Toy Story is more generational. With a decade between Toy Story 2 and 3 and another decade between Toy Story 3 and 4, the idea of a Toy Story 5 feels like a long shot but if Pixar does decide to make one, audiences will surly line up.

On a personal note, Toy Story has been a franchise of upmost importance to me. It was one of the first films I ever saw in my life and as Andy grew up with each film, I grew up the same. Being in the “Andy generation” of Toy Story viewers, it’s easy to be moved to tears during moments when the film looked back while feeling a bittersweet emotion with how the film eventually leaves the characters. To me, these 4 films will always hold a strong place in my hearts along with countless fans around the world.

Toy Story 4 is a beautiful epilogue to a perfect trilogy. With a strong script, incredible voice acting performances and an emotional ending to Woody’s story, Toy Story 4 perfectly honors the beloved story.

4.5/5

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