I refuse to believe that the makers of Toy Story do not have some kind of tie-up with the tissue industry. It would be a genius idea actually. Where else (not counting Endgame, of course) will one find such a large number of grown ups weeping unashamedly?
Twenty-four years after Toy Story made its debut as Pixar’s first ever film, the fourth instalment in the series cements the aura of magic and excellence the studio has built around itself.
Where to begin with this movie?
Two years after Andy left for college and broke thousands of hearts with his ‘so long, pard’ner’, Woody (Tom Hanks) finds himself being neglected more and more often. Unfazed, he sticks to his commitment of making Bonnie’s (his kid) life as easy as possible, and that includes accompanying her to her first day of kindergarten, and taking care of her newest toy—a spork named Forky (Tony Hale). No doubt this would bring up doubts into a few minds (the annoying few who question the logic in a toy-centric movie), namely, 'what exactly makes one a toy'? If a child puts googly eyes and pipe cleaner limbs on a book, is it still a book or a toy or both? What gives life to the toys?
Have no fear. The film has enough self-awareness about these issues to leave the audience free to relax into the nostalgia-packed emotional sucker punch that is Toy Story 4.
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The rest of the story follows Woody’s attempts to keep Forky close to Bonnie, and meet up with his old flame Bo Peep (Annie Potts) along the way. Together, they battle through the existential questions of a toy’s life outside of their kid, being replaced, and what to do after reaching fulfilment—all themes that the original Toy Story audience would well relate to, considering they would be in their 30s by now.
The cast is such a concentrated pool of talent that they could single-handedly form their own Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and no one would bat an eye. All of them bring their own delightful tidbits into the film, especially Tom Hanks, whose rich timbre brings the beloved Woody to life one more time. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele breathe their unmistakable chemistry into Bunny and Ducky, while Annie Potts proves herself versatile enough to liven up this spunky version of Bo Peep as well. And Keanu Reeves is delightful as ever, and most probably the future trademark holder of the phrase ‘Yes I Canada!’.
Debut director Josh Cooley is no stranger to Pixar, having worked on the storyboards of classics liked The Incredibles, Cars, and Ratatouille before taking over the screenplay of the iconic Inside Out in 2015. According to him, Pixar has been working on Toy Story 4 for five years, and boy, does the effort show. It is also evident that the writers John Lasseter (who directed the first two movies), Rashida Jones (of Parks and Recreation fame), and Will McCormack definitely knew their stuff. Randy Newman is back on the musical helm, and lends two original songs to the mix. And before you ask – yes, they do play 'You’ve Got A Friend in Me', and yes, it is as tear inducing as ever.
One has to really scramble to find fault with this film, so why waste time nitpicking? Hold on to almost as many boxes of tissues you needed for Toy Story 3, and watch till the end as animated toys teach us lessons for life. And beyond.
Movie: Toy Story 4
Director: Josh Cooley
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Tony Hale, Annie Potts, Joan Cusack, Keegan Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves