Toy Story 4 is utterly fantastic. The fourth installment of Pixar’s flagship franchise is masterfully constructed in that it weaves a narrative thread binding the previous three films while setting forth on a heartfelt journey of identity, acceptance, and love. To call this film charming is grossly underselling Josh Cooley’s directorial debut. In many ways, Toy Story 4 is a celebration of why fans hold these movies in such high regard. We’ve grown up with Andy and his toys over the years. We were right with them when he got Buzz Lightyear for his birthday. We all cheered when Andy gave his most treasured items to young Bonnie, which allowed for that magic to continue. What started with many of us going to theaters with our parents has now morphed into fans bringing our children to experience the warmth of these fully realized characters.
Toy Story 4 is about identity and acceptance. While most of Bonnie’s toys have transitioned well, one of them doesn’t seem to be getting the same love as the others- Woody (Tom Hanks). Struggling with finding a purpose, he sneaks his way into her backpack on her first day of Kindergarten. While having a rough 1st day, Woody is her guardian angel (it’s all he has left) making sure she has enough supplies to make a pencil holder (per the teacher). Bonnie ends up creating a brand new toy, Forky (Tony Hale) who ends up helping her adjust to her new surroundings. When left alone, he quickly longs for being in the trash can because it’s warm, safe, and quite frankly he’s never been loved like this before. Woody makes sure he stays put (understanding how crucial Forky is for Bonnie), but in a moment where Forky throws himself out the window of a moving RV, Woody sets forth on an adventure that reunites him with an important toy from his past.
The strength of these releases are not just in the writing but also in the ensemble as well. There were three members of the ensemble which stood out to me. Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key voice Fluffy Bunny and Duckie and are hysterical. However, my favorite character in the whole piece has to be Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves).
The animation in the film was spectacular. The sequence in the opening where R.C. was stuck in a rainstorm looked like it was happening in real life. In the antique store, seeing that cat move around was shocking as it seemed all too real. The vibrant colors and eye-popping attention to detail were mindblowing. I realize praising Pixar for great animation is redundant, but this film has some of the best-animated sequences ever from the studio.
Overall, the latest chapter in the Toy Story franchise was perfect in every way. I feel it is safe to say that you’ll be an emotional wreck after the film. I don’t want to say more so you can go into the theater and (as my wife likes to say), “Let it wash over you like a wave.” Soak in the brilliance of this beautiful film both in its appearance and message.