Toy Story 4 - This Movie Rocks The Sad and the Joyous Both. Caboom!
Dir: Josh Cooley
Staerring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Tony Hale, Annie Potts, Keanu Reeves, Jordan Peele, Keegan-iIchael Key, Christina Hendricks, Bonnie Hunt, Joan Cusack
Anyone who had any doubts about the need for a fourth Toy Story when those folk at Pixar had already delivered just about cinema’s greatest ever living trilogy – fear no more. If you had doubts, they will evaporate within the first two minutes as TS4 opens nine years before the ending of TS3, with Sheriff Woody leading a beautifully drawn, rain-soaked rescue attempt, there to prove that no toy gets left behind.
And that sense of potential loss is a theme that wonderfully dominates this movie. Part 4 doesn’t so much come full circle as evolve. What started as a series about the innocence of childhood here becomes an existential masterpiece that in its own way confronts everything from identity to separation anxiety, to facing up to life’s inevitable uncertainties and, ultimately a poignant look at parenting and the inevitability of moving away from those you love. YES – from toys. And YES – it’s funny as hell. (And that's just Keanu Reeves' genius turn as a Canadian Evel Knievel-alike.)
Woody, Buzz and co are now with Bonnie, who is starting kindergarten and quickly becomes more enamoured of Forky, a plastic device she matched with a pipe-cleaner in class and is now her most important toy – EVS! However, when Forky (brilliantly voice by Tony Hale) realises that her love for him has essentially made him a toy with an inner life, all he wants to do is follow his true path and resign himself to be nothing more than trash. Thus, we have the first Toy Story to focus on what is basically a suicidal toy.
And if that wasn’t enough of an existential crisis for all those four years olds out there, Buzz (sidelined to a degree here in a subplot) has started to question the very nature of his own inner voice, the one that speaks pre-recorded lines whenever his buttons are pushed. Yes, it’s part of his manufacturing specs – but what does it really mean?
Inner voices play a big part in this movie – after Woody rediscovers his beloved Bo Beep he finds himself trapped in an antique store (cue dozens of visual nods to Pixars of the past in the cabinets) where a damaged (and almost demonic) Gabby Gabby seeks to steal his voice box for herself. At this point, it almost turns into a horror movie, as Cathy enlists the aid of three deeply creepy ventriloquist dolls (voices again – thrown this time) in her aid to rip Woody’s insides out.
All of this however is leavened by Pixar’s customary wit – both visual and verbal – which may well make Toy Story 4 the funniest film of the year, as well as one of the finest. Plus, you get a brand-new Randy Newman song – what’s not to love?
Toy Story 4 could have been a mistake, it could have gone a toy too far. But it is not. Instead, it’s a absolute triumph – maybe even the finest of the series (which is saying a hell of a lot.) It is heartfelt, heart-wrenching, laugh out loud funny and sob out loud inevitable. Round these parts we call it “Genius” for short.