To affinity and beyond
The first Toy Story movie was released 24 years ago and kids who loved the original film are young adults now. They grew up with two sequels, one in 1999 and another in 2010, and I think they are going to be thrilled with this latest effort by Disney/Pixar, Toy Story 4, which is maybe the best of the series.
For me, the Toy Story films have always seemed a little creepy. The “human” characters in them are always made to be callous and rather stupid (maybe they are too much like real people), and I don’t know that I’m comfortable with the thought of toys sneaking around behind our backs – pretending to be still when we walk into the room.
Nevertheless, I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of these films; and maybe it’s because Toy Story 4 fully acknowledges and embraces its creepiness that I feel a particular affinity (and beyond) for this one.
The story starts out rather slow and I found myself thinking, “I’ve seen all this before.” I was admittedly a little worried about how it was going to turn out, but about 15 minutes in things take a turn for the better and the film transitions into an original, warm and hilarious tale of love and loss, duty and responsibility, and, of course, friendship.
Woody (Tom Hanks) and his pals, including Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and Bo Peep (Annie Potts), are on a mission to protect the latest member of their group, Forky (Tony Hale), a confused little DIY toy made of a spork, pipe cleaners and paste.
As the human family goes on vacation, the toys find themselves on an adventure involving lost toys and an antique store with some scary old vintage characters. Although it might not be quite suitable for young kids, the introduction of the antique store into the Toy Story universe is about the most awesome thing the creators have done with the franchise.
There are a slew of new characters in this film, including a crazy little motorcycle stuntman named “Duke Caboom” (Keanu Reeves), and a couple of stuffed animals (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) who steal the show. (Make sure you stay through ALL of the credits until the lights come up – you will be richly rewarded!)
Toy Story 4 is directed by Josh Cooley, who was nominated for an academy award for Best Original Screenplay for Inside Out (2015), and it was written by Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom. The film has fantastic music and original songs by the great Randy Newman.
The computer animation in this film is almost lifelike and is amazingly incredible. On a technical level alone you could lose yourself in this movie, just marveling at how far the movie animation has come in the past 25 years – it’s just short of miraculous.
It’s a little dark, but this movie still has a huge heart and dozens of belly-laughs; and even though Hanks (who plays the cowboy toy, Woody) might tell you “there’s no crying” in cartoon toy movies, don’t be surprised if you shed a few tears as well.