Toy Story 4 (2019)
Director: Josh Cooley | Runtime: 1h 40mins | Animation, Adventure, Comedy
As Woody struggles to find purpose among his new life with Bonnie, he gives himself the task of watching her newly made toy, Forky. When Woody and Forky both get lost on a road trip, they end up at a nearby Carnival.
In 2010 Pixar delicately ended the narrative of Woody, Buzz and the gang in the emotionally charged Toy Story 3, and despite it being a pretty clear ending for the companies most iconic characters, we’ve surprisingly been given another opportunity to join the toys on one last adventure. Out of all the personifications Pixar have embodied over the years, the characters in Toy Story are still their most treasured, and one of the best things about their newest sequel (however unnecessary it may seem) is how well they handle the anticipation, as well as their own ability to tell a story.
While the first three films were about a toy’s bond with their child, the fourth actually focuses more on the characters they’ve bought to life. Here they find a wonderfully balanced and touching arc for Woody, as he runs into Bo Peep (the catalyst for Woody’s decisions) and eventually leads to one of the most tearjerking goodbyes since, well, Toy Story 3. What’s always made Pixar so great is their uncanny ability to not pander, but have faith in storytelling and humour to bring entertainment to anyone and everyone, and even though Toy Story 4 doesn’t hit the mark quite as well as the first three, they still nail it again and again.
Despite this being about it’s old characters, it cannot be understated how important the new additions are for the humour of the film, as Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele lend their nationally treasured brand of comedy to a cuddly duck and rabbit, or even universally adored Keanu Reeves’ Duke Kaboom becomes a stroke of genius. Even down to the smallest additions, as a single Combat Carl is left hanging two or three times in a row, you’ll be left in stitches for a few minutes after. Probably the most interesting though, is the Annabelle-esque doll Gabby, who begins as the antagonist but eventually hits home the ideas of the first two films as she’s left antiquing without a kid in sight. These are all characters that easily find their place alongside the originals, and add to emotionality and pure joy that this film is harnessing constantly.
Despite the original three being pretty set as one of the best trilogies of all time, Toy Story 4 easily proves it’s relevance, and even though it doesn’t have quite perfection of Toy Story 2 or the punch of 3, Pixar are still on top form with a delicate blend of hit playing and freshness. It may not have been wanted when it was announced, but it’s certainly a must-watch to see just how capable Pixar can be.