Rated G | 100 mins.
Directed by Josh Cooley
Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Joan Cusack
The Toy Story franchise has got to be the longest running franchise with the least amount of films, but that seems to be on purpose. In 24 years, they've put together a total of just four movies with each one improving drastically in the way they look and feel. These films are a true achievement in animated feature films and Pixar paved the way with the original Toy Story to change the game forever.
In nearly two-and-a-half decades, this franchise is almost just as old as I am. It has, in some shape or form, molded me into the person I am today, so I have a major soft spot for these movies. Upon the release of each film, I was the ages of 4, 9, 19, and now 28. Those are some pretty defining years in one's lifetime, yet I always feel like a kid again whenever I see Woody, Buzz & Co. on the big screen
Toy Story 4 picks up right where the third installment left off and though it seemed like Toy Story 3 was the perfect end to a well-rounded trilogy, there was actually plenty of great storytelling still waiting to be told. Bonnie is now the owner of Andy's hand-me-down toys and loves playing with them as much as he did when he was a kid. Well, most of them. Woody feels neglected and just wants what's best for Bonnie. In enters a hilarious new creation with an existential crisis, Forky, after being created from literal garbage ("Trash?", he asks about himself constantly). Woody then takes it upon himself to ensure Forky knows what his purpose is and how he fits into a child's life.
The gang takes a road trip and, no surprise here, a couple of the toys get lost and have to make their way back to Bonnie. Along the way we reunite with "gone, but never forgotten" Bo Peep, find out what happens to abandoned toys at playground, and meet more new characters we can attach ourselves to. Ducky (Key) and Bunny (Peele) and Duke Caboom (Reeves) are all welcome additions to the Toy Story universe that only the Pixar team could cook up. The entire film also plays out as an action-adventure with just a splash of kid-friendly horror. That sounds outlandish, but it's very accurate. Gabby Gabby and especially Benson are excruciatingly creepy.
If you had your doubts about a fourth Toy Story film, you are surely not alone. However, they nailed it once again with their brilliant storytelling, consistency with its characters, and exquisite computer animation (that wasn't a real cat in that one shot?!). By the end of it all, you simply forget that you're watching a movie about toys that come to life when you're not looking at them. There's a true heart and soul to this film that forces you to feel something, but not in a pushy way, and it reminds us that even after 24 years, it's okay to not have it all figured out just yet. Cue the tears once again. ★★★★½
★★★★★ Classic | ★★★★ Excellent | ★★★ Good | ★★ Fair | ★ Poor