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A Whole New Toy Chest Of Fun! | TOY STORY 4: Review

Everyone’s favorite toys reunite in “Toy Story 4” | © Disney/Pixar 2019

There’s no denying “Toy Story” has, is, and will always be Disney/Pixar’s most appealing animated series. In 1995, the series marked a major milestone in animated filmmaking as the first fully computer-animated feature. It was revolutionary. It turned the dial all the way over to an end that swept the world in terms of cinematic art. But… What was it about “Toy Story” that stole our hearts? Aside from technology, a well-written story, and fully developed characters… I think a major hook was a fantasy that everyone – whether aware of it or not – wished and/or wishes their toys were alive. Creepy, but subconsciously true. The other reason I think we gravitated towards these magical characters is because we provided our toys with an adult sophistication, rather than making them gullible, no-brain-having stiffs as they appeared in boxes. We personalized them – and that’s what Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the toys did. Not once, or twice, but three times! We evolved with them and they’ve returned for a fourth round of family fun.

Back on the big screen with an all-new adventure in “Toy Story 4,” Woody, Buzz and the gang find themselves far from home, discovering new friends – and old ones – on an eye-opening road trip that takes them to unexpected places.

When Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) – Woody’s new kid – finds herself all alone during kindergarten orientation, Woody must lend a hand – even if it entails digging through a trash can to obtain a few art supplies for his kid. His efforts are a success, but when Bonnie’s beloved new craft-project-turned-toy, “Forky (Tony Hale),” declares himself trash, not a toy, Woody takes it upon himself to show Forky why he should embrace being a toy. However, Woody’s journey of teaching life doesn’t go without adventures that, in turn, not only makes him question his own journey in life, but Buzz’s, as well as everyone else’s.

Forky lives! | © Disney/Pixar 2019

For starters, the core theme of this film boils down to growth. The inevitable reality of life that no matter what, nothing is forever. We evolve and need to move on. It’s a bit much for a kid’s movie, but the brilliance of Pixar sheds a light on it beautifully. Articulate enough for a child to embrace yet sophisticated enough for an adult to endure… From Forky to Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) to Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele)… and beyond (with series usuals)… “Toy Story 4” is a cinematic toy chest of imagination gone flawlessly wild.

I’m convinced there is no end to this franchise’s charm. Four movies in and “Toy Story” is a clock that keeps on ticking. Creativity for its characters – new or old — and their adventures keep getting better. Just when you think you’ve embarked on every journey, think again! The film piggybacks off where “Toy Story 3” ended and goes into a new lovely journey of ups, downs and in betweens alongside new lovely characters, but presents it with the same mesmerizing charm. It’s a layered narrative that provides laughter, a bit of misty-eyed sadness, and to an extent… some fear and insecurity that’s placed well with some of the characters as the story moves along. “Toy Story 4” is a follow-up that just adds to a series that’s progressively gotten better. Very entertaining, engaging and most of all deeply heartfelt. In short, a love letter to its audience’s soul.

Even though the film breezes through quickly, it’s solid. You’re lassoed in from the start. It’s a well-executed machine that once it comes to an end, provides a feeling of jovial satisfaction and wonder. A wonder of whether they’ll continue the series or not. If they don’t, Disney/Pixar can hang it up with confidence that they end it on a high note. Considering the story’s metaphor, it’s four gorgeous films that tie in a story of toys that will live on forever, as it’s introduced from generation to generation. However, if they intend to continue, and can hash these out as brilliantly fun and entertaining to watch, keep’em coming! I, for sure, will accept them with my mind, body and soul! “Toy Story 4” precedes any kind of hype it may have generated since its mention of production. Definitely a must-see if you’ve provided the time to the first three. In closing, stay through credit scenes. They’re just as much fun to watch! 

Woody teaches Forky the toyish ways of life in “Toy Story 4” | © Disney/Pixar 2019

Grade: A / Genre: Animation, Comedy, Adventure, Family / Rated: G / Run Time: 1:40

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves

Directed by Josh Cooley


© Disney/Pixar 2019