By Laurie Coker

Rating: A

Everyone loves a good story, in particular, children and the child in all of us love Toy Story, and each of the subsequent sequels have continued to please young and old. Woody, of course, is back along with with Buzz and Jesse and all of the original toys. New characters, human and toy come on board, and a female character (Bo Peep) takes center stage as the crew takes to the road. Pixar’s signature animation doesn’t disappoint, and the action is fast-paced and exciting. Disney and writers Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom weave a tale of friendship, growing old, growing up, the power of staying together and struggles to belong. It is difficult enough to create a sequel that lives up to the expectations of the first much less, creating four engaging, exciting, and emotional films in a single franchise. Many have tried, some to acclaim and others to scathing criticism. Toy Story 4, starring the talented and well-known voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusak, Annie Potts and a host of others, takes the toys far out of their normal realm. This film takes the toys even beyond their own town. They are thrust into a tale with messages covering, such themes as growing old (and useless), not fitting in, the power of love, the strength of women and other relevant and serious themes. This edition of Toy Story brings on girl power and problems in a way that will please kids and their parents alike.

After being broken, Bo is tossed away, and as far as Woody, who has taken a shine to her knows, she is gone forever. Bonnie, the little girl who adopted the toys when Andy grew up, faces her first day of school, a place that doesn’t allow toys. When Bonnie’s teacher suggests a craft project, she creates “Forky” (voiced by Tony Hale) using pipe-cleaners, a discarded plastic fork and a couple of jiggly eyes. Her new toy comforts her, yet Forky only sees himself as trash, and he keeps aiming towards the nearest waste can. Woody, who is nearly trashed himself, vows to keep Forky with Bonnie. When road trip takes Woody on an adventure that reunites him with Bo Peep, introduces him to new friends and thrusts him into danger. The little pull-string cowboy has to make some quick and tough decisions to save himself and keep Forky with Bonnie.

Pixar, along with Disney and director Josh Cooley, has created an awesomely appealing, sometimes syrupy narrative with wonderfully timely themes for the ages. Conversations and careful thought after the film bring about even more applicable life lessons. Like Finding Nemo, Toy Story 4 is ideal for a multifaceted study of sociology. This newest in a line of successful sequels and parent piece deserves an A. Toy Story 4 shuts a few doors but leaves as many new ones open.

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