It’s well known I poo-poo most sequels sight-unseen because I’m a movie snob. But every once in a while, a great film warrants a second and even sometimes a third. Very rarely can a film series surpass a trilogy both in need for more from the story and in audience interest. So, naturally, when I heard about “Toy Story 4”, I said, “Oh come on. ‘Toy Story 3’ was a masterpiece! How could they possibly make another one?” Well, they did and I’m here to tell you it’s about as perfect as perfect can get.
Woody and friends are now living with Bonnie after the conclusion of TS3 and as she’s preparing for her kindergarten orientation day, her dad tells her she can’t take a toy with her to school. Naturally, Woody takes it upon himself to sneak into her bag, just in case she needs a friend on her first day. While at school, she shyly tries talking to other kids, but is quickly overwhelmed by all of it after a boy takes all the art supplies from her and leaves her with nothing. Woody springs into action and grabs some crayons the boy dropped in the trash as well as random trash and tosses it up on her table. She proceeds to make a little spork man with a face, arms, and feet with her name on them she calls Forky (voiced by Tony Hale). When he comes to life, he doesn’t know what he is beyond trash and constantly tries to return to the trash can.
Back at home, Woody introduces Forky to the gang, explaining to him that Bonnie made him, so he’s important to her now and he needs to be there for him. Also, since it was only orientation day, Bonnie’s parents decide to take a week-long road trip before she starts school. They rent an RV and hit the road with all her toys in tow for a relaxing adventure.
Forky takes his first chance to bail and hops out the window of the RV. Woody goes after him, telling the rest of the gang they’ll meet at the RV park. What follows is a hilarious, delightfully creepy at times, and incredible heartfelt story of trying to find your purpose after a major life change and deciding whether to stick with the norm or follow your dreams.
Featuring the voice talents of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, and the rest of the usual “Toy Story” cast of John Ratzenberger, Don Rickles before he passed, Wallace Shawn, Bonnie Hunt, Jeff Garland, and all the rest I’m forgetting, “Toy Story 4” hit me right in the feels as someone who moved away from his life as he knew it, (hated it,) and moved somewhat back but continues to be on a journey of self-reflection, wondering what my purpose is and how I fit into the world. Thankfully the woman next to us passed us tissues at one point!
First off, I have to mention the animation. HOLY COW, the animation. The first shot of the movie was so photo-realistic, I actually gasped. Everything looks real! The detail of the backgrounds along would trick you into thinking they’re live action. The story is great; really great! I love a good adventure romp and this one puts Beau Peep (voiced by Potts) in the driver’s seat with Woody as her sidekick. We have a new Disney princess on our hands! She’s tough, she’s smart, she’s driven, and she’s got her own life to live. For those who know what it is, she passes the Boetchal Test with flying colors! The villain of the film is a doll named Gabby Gabby (voiced by Hendrick) teamed up with her trio of ventriloquist dummies that are downright Creeptown, USA. Not frightening for kids, of course, but for the adults, they’re just creepy. A guy next to us said, “Oh that’s messed up” at one point, drawing laughs from those around him.
As always, the message of friendship is huge in this story, but in a new way we haven’t seen from these characters. Everyone has their role to play, including newcomers Bunny and Ducky (voiced by Jordan Peele and Keagan Michael Key, respectively) and Canadian stuntman Duke Kaboom (voiced by Reeves). Honestly, I tried to think of criticism for the film for nearly a full day and I have nothing. No complaints! It’s as close to perfect as a film can get.
Get out to see this in the theater if you can. It’s absolutely delightful and will make a wonderful addition to the collection.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Snack Packs
Lincoln L. Hayes is an actor and writer living in NYC. Follow his adventures at www.lincolnlhayes.com.