In 1995, Pixar released the first Toy Story, their first full-featured film in complete computer animation and was met with high praise from both critics and audiences. Many children who grew up watching that movie hold it very close to their hearts and have been able to grow up with the movies going to Toy Story 2 in 1999 and Toy Story 3 in 2010. Many viewers thought that the series would end with the perfect finale of Toy Story 3 so when a fourth installment was announced, people instantly became skeptical and worried while questioning why we even need another one. I can confidently say that Toy Story 4 is another outstanding chapter in the series delivering beautiful animation, extremely well-realized characters, a very smart story and a hell of an emotional punch in what ultimately becomes a beautiful epilogue to Toy Story 3.
The story takes place roughly a year after Toy Story 3, the toys are with Bonnie now and adjusting to their new owner. Woody is struggling to adjust to Bonnie as he often finds himself left in the closet while Jessie tends to be one of her new favourite toys. Bonnie is about to start kindergarten and seems to be struggling with it until she creates the new character Forky, who instantly becomes her whole world and helps her get through the day at school. Before the school year begins, Bonnie and her family go on a road trip and on that road trip, Forky runs away and it’s up to Woody to bring him back. While trying to bring him back, he runs into his old love Bo Peep who’s been living as a lost toy for the past 7 years. Together, they try to rescue Forky from an antique store and return him back to Bonnie.
The story is really quite brilliant and feels really mature as it deals with how we complete our roles while finding our self-purpose and asking what it is that makes us happy and if our purpose and self-happiness go together. Woody has always been this father figure to the toys and Andy so even when Bonnie doesn’t play with him, he’s still looking out for her and the other toys even if they don’t entirely need him. The themes play nicely coming off of the toys accepting mortality in Toy Story 3 which helps make it feel like an epilogue to the series. Buzz has an interesting role in the movie as he has to step up as a leader when Woody is trying to get Forky back but even though he had the confidence to lead toys on a crusade to get Woody back from Al in Toy Story 2, he had other toys that supported him so in this story when he goes out on his own to help Woody, he seeks confidence in his own choices as leader. Bo Peep was awesome in the movie, revealing a whole new light in the world of toys as she was part of a lamp and came to life and helps expand the idea of what a lost toy actually is and what they do. She knows how to handle herself and her character is as complex as Woody at points in the movie, making her more than just a love interest. The story works so well that it choked me up at the beginning with a beautiful scene between Bo and Woody and the ending left me wrecked in a completely different way than Toy Story 3 does whenever I watch it.
The animation is absolutely breathtaking and beautiful. Every frame is gorgeous and full of detail and colour making look super realistic at times. The biggest standout for me is easily a scene in the rain where Woody and the gang are rescuing a toy left outside. The character expresses their emotions very well and Bo finally looks like a porcelain doll. You can see the stitching of the toys and dust on things in the antique store. Pixar somehow always manages to one-up themselves in the quality of their animation. The directing by first time director Josh Cooley who previously co-wrote Inside Out is brilliant. The way he moves the camera in scenes and in the action is extremely well done and smart, creating gorgeous looking shots and wicked visual storytelling. What he does with the antique store and the ventriloquist dummies makes it feel like a horror movie and adds this creep factor that every antique store definitely has.
Tom Hanks and Tim Allen return to voice Woody and Buzz just like the other movies, they nail it and make the characters so iconic. Their chemistry is great in the movie but if I had to nitpick something, I wish there was a scene or two more with them in the movie. Also returning to voice Bo Peep is Annie Potts who is also brilliant and you buy the romance between Bo and Woody thanks to their great chemistry. Everyone else returns to voice their characters but a lot of them take the backlight for new characters like Forky voiced by Tony Hale who could’ve made the character annoying but never does and works great making a really funny piece of trash, Ducky and Bunny voiced by the always funny Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele who definitely got to do some improve because they steal just about every scene they’re in, Duke Kaboom voiced by the breathtaking Keanu Reeves and the interesting villain Gabby Gabby voiced by Christina Hendricks who does an excellent job in fleshing out this doll who’s only been stuck on a shelf and lives out her days in the antique store. As much as I missed seeing the original toys, the new ones are also really good and help make this movie as funny as it is because it’s really funny.
Toy Story 4 is a beautiful ending to the series as a whole that delivers on all fronts. The voice talent is outstanding and that was directed by a first time director is quite impressive as the film is simply gorgeous. The themes are mature and almost feel more adult than some of the other movies and make it a really personal movie for Woody. The animation is masterful and a true eye pleaser. If you were nervous about this movie being made I can tell you that it justifies itself greatly and if you grew up with these movies the same way I did, will hit you on a real emotional level. I also feel the need to shout out the awesome score and music that returns from past movies while making new ones that standout wonderfully. I really hope they don’t make another one because this movie wraps everything up in a really beautiful way.
Toy Story 4 (2019)
Toy Story 4 is a beautiful epilogue to the Toy Story series. The animation pops with gorgeous colours and realism, the voice acting is perfect and super funny, mature themes and left me emotional by the time the credits were rolling. I do wish there were more scenes with Woody and Buzz. If you’re a fan of these movies and Pixar, you will not be disappointed with it.