2010’s Toy Story 3 may have had something of an ending to the heartstring-tugging Pixar animation saga – a now grown up Andy passed his beloved toys to little girl Bonnie – but Woody, Buzz and pals are very much alive (at least when no humans are in the room) and back for another adventure in this sweet follow-up that serves as a fitting finale.
Picking up where the previous movie left off, the toys are all lovingly looked after by Bonnie, although cowboy doll Woody (Hanks) often finds himself left behind, forgotten in her closet while she plays with Jessie and Bullseye. And when Bonnie returns from her first day at kindergarten, she introduces a new toy she has made from a spork called Forky (Hale) – a nervous sort of fellow who wants to be trash rather than a toy, and whom Woody takes under his wing (when he’s not trying to stop the little plastic guy from throwing himself back in the bin).
Unfortunately, when Bonnie and her parents go on a road trip, Forky gets lost and Woody sets off to save him. En route, he discovers his former amour Bo Peep (Potts), who became a lost toy after she was given away (explaining her absence from Toy Story 3), and the inhabitants of a second hand store, including doll Gabby Gabby (Hendricks).
While the plot is pretty similar to the original where Woody tried to rescue new toy Buzz, there are some interesting new characters like Gabby, her creepy puppet minions the Bensons, hilarious plush toys Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Peele), and Canadian stunt doll Duke Caboom (Reeves) to give the movie a fresh feel. However, fans of older toys like Jessie, Rex, Hamm and Slinky Dog will be sad to learn their favourites are hardly seen, and even Buzz (Allen) gets sidelined somewhat in favour of the new additions.
There’s still a lot to love about this Toy Story, of course, from the bright, inventive computer animation and the perfect voice cast – Keanu Reeves and Tony Hale both stealing every scene they are in – to the beautiful characterisation of each of the toys. As with their other movies, Pixar’s writers know how to stir our emotions (even when we try hard not to cry, they get us every time), making Woody the heart of the movie, while having Bo add a special warmth and toughness as the self-reliant toy who has survived without a kid to play with her.
Kids will fall in love with Forky, rediscover Woody and Bo and be enchanted by Toy Story 4 from the opening scene until the end credits. Grown-ups, meanwhile, may need to hold back the occasional sniffle as they realise the story isn’t just about toys – it’s about being a parent watching your kid grow up, and learning to let go. Sob. Damn you, Pixar, damn you.
Is Toy Story 4 suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Very young children may find the ventriloquist dummies known as the Bensons quite creepy. They live in the second hand store with Gabby Gabby and look quite sinister but aren’t as frightening as Sid from the original Toy Story.
Little ones may be upset when Forky is lost and Woody goes to save him. They may also be upset when they see half of a fluffy toy with his insides torn out by a cat, but later we see that the top half of the toy has survived and is fine.
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