REVIEW: ‘Toy Story 4’ writes new path

By Juan Calvillo

Courtesy of Pixar Animation Studios

By Juan Calvillo

“Toy Story 4” is an enchantingly fun ride that asks and answers the question of what’s next for Woody and the gang. The original “Toy Story” brought audiences in the world where toys had their own lives and loved the child they were friends with, in that case Andy. The last sequel showed Andy and the toys moving on, Andy going to college and the toys finding a new home.This entry into the franchise takes the nostalgic ending from the previous sequel and shows what the next logical step would be for the toys from Andy’s room—with the voice-actors making it all believable and heartfelt.

The “Toy Story” franchise is extremely blessed with amazing talent from top to bottom. All the main characters return along with their voice-actors. Woody and Buzz Lightyear are reprised by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen respectively. The team of Hanks and Allen continue to impress and fill audiences with laughter, and the smart writing keeps the characters interesting to watch on screen. In addition to Allen and Hanks, comes the rest of the Andy’s room crew that now make up the various toys of new kid, Bonnie. With the stand-out being Annie Potts of “Young Sheldon” and “Ghostbusters” fame reprising her more beefed-up role as Bo Peep.

Newcomers to the “Toy Story” world include Christina Hendricks as Gabby Gabby, the doll; Duke Caboom, a Canadian stunt driver toy voiced enthusiastically by Keanu Reeves; and the duo of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as the attached team of Bunny and Ducky. Out of these newcomers, it’s Key and Peele’s hilarious duo that really bring the laughs. Their characters, while seemingly ordinary toy type characters, have their own imaginary ideas of dealing with situations. These moments had the audience laughing out loud while poking fun at the original idea of toys having to hide their lives from humans. Finally, it’s Tony Hale’s character Forky that rounds out the new additions to the cast. Despite being named Forky, the character is actually a spork—and it’s through the character of Forky that the story truly begins.

From the outset of the film, “Toy Story 4” shows how much love and devotion Woody has for his fellow toys. It also shows just how much his life as a toy makes him choose duty to his kid rather than to himself. Each iteration of the “Toy Story” franchise has seen Woody try as hard as he can to keep his toy family together and with their chosen kid. The movie reinforces this by having Woody try desperately to help Bonnie and her newly created bestfriend, Forky.

A part of the story is getting Forky to understand his role and connection with Bonnie. Woody voluntarily decides to help Forky and his kid Bonnie, which creates a large amount of hilarious gags that almost always end with a bang.

By wanting to help Forky and Bonnie, Woody puts himself into situations that change the story from Woody trying to help his chosen kid, into a story of Woody coming to terms with what the next step of his life should look like and what he wants. Old friends and new foes slowly begin to show Woody what his life is about, and what it truly could become if he chooses.

“Toy Story 4” is a natural progression for various characters in the film and tells a fun and charming story about choice and life. Like the past movies in the franchise, it draws tears of both joy and sorrow from the audience. “Toy Story 4” is rated G, has a run time of 100 minutes and releases June 21.

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