Erik Jimenez/Staff Writer
“Toy Story 4” is an oddball of a film.
While it is a great film in its own right and a worthy addition to the franchise, the possible concluding chapter feels less like a definitive ending and more like an epilogue to the original trilogy.
One that specifically focuses on Woody (Tom Hanks) resulting in solid drama and brings up ideas that you are guaranteed to think about well after watching it.
Starting two years after the previous film where Andy donated his toys to Bonnie at the end, Woody and the other toys are content in their new life. Though Bonnie seems to have lost interest in Woody after consistent neglect in favor of the others, she is still loyal to his owners. He is worried that Bonnie will feel overwhelmed at her kindergarten orientation, Woody sneaks into her backpack and manages to oversee her create a handmade toy-spork she names Forky. And not only does Forky (Tony Hale) come to life but he becomes Bonnie’s favorite toy.
But Forky, being made from trash doesn’t understand the meaning he brings to Bonnie, constantly trying to throw himself away if not for Woody constantly stopping him. But during a road trip, Forky manages to escape with Woody in pursuit causing him to be split from the other toys. Woody teams up with long lost romantic partner Bo Peep (Annie Potts) to save Forky from an antique shop run by pull string doll Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendrick) who is holding him hostage until Woody gives her his voice box to replace her defective one.
This is a much smaller film than the previous two entries but is just as funny. This is mainly due to the introduction of some new characters that bring energy and life to the film and franchise. Chief among them is Ducky and Bunny, (Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele), two carnival plush toys who help Woody and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen)get back to Bonnie, and Duke Caboom, a Canadian Evel Knievel-esque daredevil toy voiced by Hollywood’s current man of the hour Keanu Reeves. They bring in the film’s biggest laughs.
But all this comes at a bit of a cost due to the other toys such as Rex, Hamm, Slinky and the Potato Heads taking a major backseat in the film. If you’re a big fan of Jessie (Joan Cusack) I got some bad news for you because she is barely in the movie. Even Buzz can’t help but feel a little shoved into this story. The conflict revolves so much around Woody, Bo, and the new toys, that if this truly is the final film in this franchise it’s a shame that it couldn’t have found a way to bring all of these fan favorites together in a more balanced package. I felt like I was only able to say goodbye to about half of my favorite characters by the end of it.
But those we do say goodbye to arguably get the ending they deserve. Woody’s character arc in this film is highly emotional and you sympathize with the choices he makes in the end. The animation is also in peak form with these characters and environments looking better than ever. As are the score and songs by series veteran Randy Newman.
While it’s my least favorite in the series, I still highly recommend seeing it and, if anything else, it effectively turns “Toy Story” from one of the greatest trilogies of all-time to arguably the first great saga ever.