"Toy Story 4" Review: A Welcomed Finale...Hopefully
The announcement of Toy Story 4 was a shock to the system. Toy Story 3 was the perfect bow for the franchise. Pixar definitely can teach other studios how to keep a franchise going past its seemingly end. While the latest film has all the warm fuzzies, jokes, love, and deep storytelling that we’ve enjoyed in the past, I respectively and lovingly hope this is it.
The film picks up where the last left off but a few years down the line. Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) is on her way to kindergarten. She still has Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack) and the rest of the gang. While she’s not old enough to stop playing with all of her toys, Bonnie certainly has her favorites, and Woody is not one of them. He gets left in the closet and collects dust bunnies while everyone else gets played with. Since Woody has always been the leader, this change is something he’s grappling with.
After her first day of school, Bonnie comes back with a new toy she created named Forky (Tony Hale). Understanding how much a toy means to the human he serves, Woody makes it his mission to keep Forky from throwing himself in the trash and getting himself lost. This includes making sure he stays safe on the family road trip in the RV, which of course is a task in itself.
What Pixar does better than most is explain life to us with child-like simplicity. They take us back to the basics time and time again. In this film, the big lesson is how we evolve in our relationships with loved ones. Woody has had his time with Andy and got a second chance with Bonnie, but what happens when our metaphorical Bonnie moves on? What do we do with the feeling of no longer being needed? How do you overcome your mentality of finding your self-worth in someone else or the opinion of others? There are all kinds of deep lessons that can be learned when you dig past the surface of what’s presented, and of course it’s laced with gags and humor.
The adventure the gang goes on is a fun and comical ride. There certainly was another story that could be told with Toy Story. The directors have stated that this is a fitting end for Woody and possibly the franchise but they thought it would be over after Toy Story 2. I hope they let this be the end because they have squeezed all the juice out of the lemon to create the delicious pitcher of lemonade that is the franchise. Perhaps Toy Story 3 left us thirsty for more, but Toy Story 4 is the confirmation that we’re good to go.