By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Even though Disney/Pixar could have ended a successful franchise with a trilogy, they opted to make it a quadrilogy, and the results aren’t actually bad. The latest installment in the Toy Story saga shows a tremendous amount of love for its characters and stories; though I feel it isn’t exactly the franchise’s strongest offering. Nevertheless, if one has much love for this movie series, Disney/Pixar and its multiple talents involved have guaranteed that this latest chapter is not at all a waste of time.
After being transferred to a new home and child, our beloved toys have new obstacles and challenges to face. Woody (Tom Hanks), in particular, discovers that he is no longer the favorite toy of the bunch, as young Bonnie has some different interests of her own. Nevertheless, the earnest cowboy does his very best to provide joy for his beloved owner even if it includes protecting a strange and unusual toy crafted by Bonnie in kindergarten. When Bonnie and her family take a road trip, all of the toys including Forky (Tony Hale) go along for the ride. When the lost and confused makeshift toy gets lost during the trip, Woody takes it upon himself to make sure he gets back safely.
Directed by Josh Cooley and written by Stephany Folsom, Andrew Stanton, John Lasseter, Rashida Jones, Will McCormack, Josh Cooley, Valerie LaPointe, and Martin Hynes, Toy Story 4 adds another rich and highly entertaining chapter to the franchise. What really makes this film work so well is the mix of exceptional humor and its applications to real life events in a child’s life. I was also rather impressed with how great the filmmakers develop the characters and how their stakes really resonate with what real people go through. I suppose this gas always been the case with all of the Toy Story films. And this latest installment continues that tradition.
As usual, there is a tremendous amount of voice talents involved. Most of the regulars (Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Estelle Getty, John Ratzenberger, etc.) return and perform well. However, the real standouts have to be the talents new to the saga. Tony Hale is wonderful as the frightened and confused craft toy Forky as is Keanu Reeves as Canadian stunt toy Duke Caboom. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele certainly steal several scenes as the attached carnival toys Ducky and Bunny. Christina Hendricks also gives a nuanced performance as antique doll Gabby Gabby.
So if one is already a huge fan of this series, then my recommendation isn’t really needed. Still, I can definitely guarantee that this latest Toy Story movie is worth the trip to the cinema and is a lot of fun and full of heart.