I won’t give away too much of the specific plot away in my review but the basic storyline is new owner Bonnie creates a toy out of trash, Forky, who becomes her favourite toy but he longs to be back with the trash. When the family take a road trip, Forky jumps out the window to become trash meaning Woody has to go collect him and bring him back to Bonnie. The film is then set in a quaint little town that has a travelling carnival visiting and Pixar makes use of this inclusion with aplomb. Pixar studio always said that they would only go ahead with Toy Story 4 if the story was necessary. When they announced that the film was in production (and despite the high quality of each Toy Story film), I couldn’t help doubting whether a fourth installment really was necessary since the third one rounded the franchise off nicely. I am glad to say that there was no need to be in doubt at all. I think that the UK marketing team for Pixar did a brilliant job of not actually giving away too much of the plot which made the film all the more enjoyable to watch and also surprising.
It goes without saying that Tom Hanks and Tim Allen do a fantastic job in their iconic roles as Woody and Buzz, respectively but there are also a great array of new characters that are brought into the fold. My favourite character is the aforementioned Forky. Everything about this little guy is hilarious from how he looks to his physicality to the way he talks and socialises with other toys. He is a fantastic little addition to the Toy Story family and honestly it’s been hilarious seeing how many toys Disney have made of him for extortinate prices despite the fact that his character was literally made from items from a bin. Other characters introduced in this film include Bunny and Ducky, voiced by comedy duo Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key who are also great additions. They are adorable plush teddies who have been waiting three years to be won at the carnival fair. The last toy inclusion to mention is Duke Kaboom, a Canadian action figure voiced by Keanu Reeves. He is a hilarious and sensitive character who speaks passionately about his past owner, Rijon, who got rid of him. We also see the reintroduction of an old toy in this film. Bringing back Bo Peep who has been given a makeover into a strong heroine is a long cry away from her shy, lovestruck self in the first two Toy Story films and has been the cause of complaint to some but rest assured it is done fantastically and subtly to the point where it makes sense with her own storyline. It’s also great for Pixar to show the contextual progression where female characters don’t have to be passive love interests. Bo Peep does a lot of the rescuing in this film and it’s treated no differently to when male characters take action.
It’s easy to imagine that with the addition of so many characters that they don’t have their chance for character growth but the writers have done a great job with balancing this out. Forky and Bo Peep are given the most space for character growth since their stories are central to the plot whereas Ducky, Bunny and Duke are used as comic relief so only their backstories are given. Knowing the importance of the toys in the specific film means that the audience isn’t crammed with too many plotlines that they can’t keep up with. With their being so many new and different characters, it does mean that all of Bonnie’s toys (with the exception of Woody, Buzz and arguably Jessie) may as well have not been brought on the road trip. When Bonnie loses Forky, she doesn’t care that she has numerous other (non-trash made) toys in the RV. They’re just there in the background for the whole film. They didn’t even need to bring in a replacement for Mr. Potatohead as they recycled old lines said by Don Rickles in previous films. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily but it does mean that their importance has been faded out in this (supposedly) final installment. There were many scenes that I enjoyed in this film but if I had to pick one, I would say when Woody and Forky are having their heart to heart after Forky jumps out the RV. Woody tries to make Forky understand the importance of his role as a toy which means Forky has the realisation that he is “Bonnie’s trash”. It’s one of those heart-warming scenes injected with humour which have become synonymous with the Toy Story franchise. Also, any scene with Duke Kaboom in because he is absolutely hilarious and his backstory was heartbreaking to watch.
Another thing to talk about is how amazing the animation is, in particular Bo Peep. The shine and reflective effect of her porcelein is an incredible development from the first film. It makes her look eerie at times but more delicate as well (she is porcelein after all!). When you look back to how she appeared in the first film, the animation doesn’t compare. I’m not dissing the first film because it achieved so much at the time of its release in regards to animation, but celebrating the achievements made since then and seeing that transformation in the span of 24 years is incredible. Also the textures of the plushes and ventriloquist dummies that appear in this film are equally fantastic.
I think that Toy Story 4 was well worth the wait and seemed like the true ending for the franchise. I think it will go on to win the Best Animated Feature at the Oscars next year (to be honest, it’s rare that a Disney film doesn’t win this) and I think it will date well as a film. I think what makes it work so well is that even though it follows on from the trilogy and the franchise, there is a different feel to it altogether because they’re not Andy’s toys anymore. With a new owner comes new changes and this opened up a door for new storylines and motives.