Name: Toy Story 4
Pixar has done it again with Toy Story 4 delivering dynamic and mature themes into a jammed packed vibrant family adventure. Toy Story 4 focuses on Woody, the most iconic Toy Story character, played by Tom Hanks as he struggles to find a purpose for his existence. He struggles to move on from his past and embrace his new calling while accepting his mortality. This film – and many other Pixar movies across the board – really does shine a beacon of originality.
Since 1995, Toy Story has set a high bar with their animated family adventures; however, Toy Story 4 didn’t seem to reach it. The story focused on a young girl, Bonnie, who is starting kindergarten and now owns Andy’s old toys, which we seen in Toy Story 3. Woody is no longer the favourite toy but thrusts himself to protecting Bonnie and being with her at key moments of her life, like he was with Andy. At kindergarten Bonnie builds a new toy assembled from spare parts found in the trash named Forky. Forky struggles to accept he is now a toy and longs to return to the rubbish bin from where he came and it falls to trusty sheriff Woody to convince him of his new purpose in life. How far will Forky go to escape his new existence? Will this task be too much for Woody to handle?
Toy Story 4 does envisage the nature of existence in an unusual way – to not only value yourself but the value you give to others, in this case to Bonnie. It’s a very rocky road to acceptance for Forky, meeting old reintroduced characters, Bo Peep, and a bunch of new characters. Pixar has touched on death in previous films, which is a milestone in children’s animated movies, but with the character Forky longing to essentially commit suicide, this film was a light way to introduce a lost soul wanting nothing but his final rest. The film shows power of friendship and unity to fulfill characters happiness and make them feel wanted and with a purpose.
Woody and Forky winds up spending the majority of the film in an antique shop dealing with the new villain character Gabby Gabby, (Christina Hendricks). Gabby Gabby has been faulty since her creation and longs to become complete to find her purpose, giving love and support to a human owner. Her only way to do so is to take Woody’s voice box and make it her own. She takes Forky as hostage to bait Woody into a trap.
Woody unexpectedly reunites with his old love, Bo Peep, (Annie Potts) but she is a lot different from when we last saw her. She has evolved into a well-travelled independent doll since her separation with her human owner. Pixar has done this well showing Woody and the audience there is more than one path in life, we just have to choose to embrace new things. Woody comes to learn that maybe it’s time he makes a decision for himself, and stay with Bo Peep, and move on from his life with his new owner. Woody teams up with Bo Peep and her new friends to free Forky.
With all the focus on new characters, the original Toy Story gang seemed forgotten in the shadows and left on the top shelf. The original gangs biggest task throughout the film was to ensure that Bonnie and her parents didn’t leave the carnival before Woody and Forky returned – which seemed disappointing.
The final third of the movie delivered a high impact lengthy action sequence – giving the movie a fun and exciting eruption of twists and turns. Josh Cooley, first time feature director, cleverly integrates horror movie methods with chase scenes and traps inside the antiques store – keeping the movie anything but boring.
Although Toy Story 4 has a mixture of story lines the film itself felt more of a side mission than a full movie adventure. With previous films taking us to infinity and beyond, Toy Story 4 seemed to have a lack of rocket fuel.
The emotional ending perfectly reflects the message that in our lives there will be stages we must focus and embrace the future, leaving and learning from the past. These stages are shown throughout the film with characters making hard decisions for them to be happy.
Which leaves one question in my mind – Would this be the final Toy Story movie, focusing on new Pixar projects and leaving the old gang behind?