Jungle
Toy Story 4

Toy Story 3 ended with Andy passing down Woody, Buzz, and all the other toys he grew up with to Bonnie so she could experience that same joy he had with them. It was such a heartwarming and perfect end to the trilogy, and to be honest I thought that no future stories could live up to where the franchise left off. Leave it to Pixar to prove me wrong. Toy Story 4 may very well be the strongest film in the franchise with a heartfelt story that is full of laughter, warmth, and love, showing that four films later there is still plenty of life left in these toys.

 

Woody’s (Tom Hanks) entire life’s purpose has always been to take care of Andy and now Bonnie, even though his place in her life is nowhere near as important as it was when he was with Andy. So when Bonnie makes a new toy out of bits and pieces of trash, Woody takes it upon himself to teach “Forky” what his purpose is now that he’s Bonnie’s favorite toy. Things get complicated on a family road trip when Forky goes missing, and as Woody does whatever he can to reunite Forky with Bonnie, he begins to question his own life purpose and that maybe it’s no longer what it used to be.

 

I absolutely loved everything about Toy Story 4 as the film acts as an emotional cleanse that will remind even people with the most hardened of hearts that they’re not dead inside. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want to drive to your parent’s house and search for that one special toy you had growing up that’s now collecting dust in the attic. The original Toy Story was all about trying to convince a toy, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), that he was a child’s play thing and not an actual space ranger. Now on the fourth film, the franchise is showing that these toys are far more human than we could have imagined.

 

The whole plot of Toy Story 4 is essentially Woody having an existential crisis now that he no longer is needed by Andy and to a lesser extent Bonnie. For as long as he’s been in existence, he’s had a kid and a purpose. Now he’s faced with what to do when both of those are taken away. On the opposite end is Forky, who believes he’s just trash and not a toy. In a way, Toy Story 4 mirrors many of the same elements of the original; Woody is trying to convince someone that they are a toy, they get separated from their kid, and they must find their way back home to them. What’s different is that Woody is in very much a different mental state now as it’s not so much “Andy needs us” to “Bonnie needs you.” It’s a passing of the torch.

 

As deep and emotional as the film might get, Toy Story 4 still very much works amazing as an animated kids movie. The visuals will blow you away, and the humor is the best it’s ever been for Pixar. Seriously. I haven’t laughed this much at the movies in a long time. A lot of that is thanks to many of the new characters. There’s Key & Peele’s Ducky and Bunny, two carnival stuffed animals who are literally stitched together, and Duke Kaboom (Keanu Reeves), a stuntman toy who one day dreams of making that big jump on his motorcycle. Forky (Tony Hale) is hilarious too and spends almost every scene as a suicidal toy trying to find a trash can because he thinks he’s meant to be thrown away.

 

The Toy Story franchise is arguably the highest quality and most consistent film franchise around. It’s films aren’t just good, they’re among the absolute best. And that’s not just one or two of them; that goes for all four of them. I thought Pixar said all it needed to say with Toy Story 3 but clearly there is still stories to be told. Toy Story 4 is one of the best films of the year. It’s a masterpiece in animation and storytelling and will make you want to watch it again immediately after the credits roll. Woody, Buzz, and all of the other toys have never felt more human.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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