TOY STORY 4. Voiced by Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Don Rickles, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Keanu Reeves, and Jordan Peele. Also, Blake Clark, and Joan Cusack. Directed by Josh Cooley. Rated G (Some scenes may scare very young children). 100 min.
This American animated comedy film focuses on the difficulties of forging an identity, and is the sequel to “Toy Story 3”. It is the fourth instalment in Pixar Studio’s Toy Story series and is the first feature film for Director, Josh Cooley, who co-wrote the screenplay for Pixar’s “Inside Out” (2015).
Returning cast members are Tom Hanks, who voices Sheriff Woody, and Tim Allen who voices Buzz Lightyear - two beloved characters in the series. Annie Potts is Bo-Peep, and Don Rickles (posthumously) is Mr. Potato Head. The original “Toy Story” was brought to the screen by Pixar Studios in 1995, and was the first computer-animated feature film, released by Walt Disney.
Pixar has been responsible for many extraordinary animation movies which include “Finding Nemo” (2003), “Up” (2009), “Toy Story 3” (2010), “Inside Out” (2015), and most recently “The Incredibles” (2018) - all but one of which has won an Academy Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film for the year. The one that did miss (“Up”) was good enough to be nominated for an Academy Oscar as Best Picture for the year. This movie continues Pixar’s high level of animation excellence.
The film pursues the adventures of Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear, who are part of a roomful of toys that belonged originally to Andy as their owner. Here, they embark on a road trip that finds new friends, and on the trip they meet new toys, like Bunny (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Ducky (voiced by Jordan Peele). When Andy went off to College and gave his toys to Bonnie, Bonnie created a new toy, which she called Forky (voiced by Tony Hale). Bonnie became devoted to Forky, and he quickly became her favourite toy. Forky, however, doesn't quite know what it means to be a toy. In the film, he declares himself “trash” and not a toy, and this is a film that solves his identity crisis. Other toys try to help Forky understand what it means to be a good toy, but Forky finds that difficult. Things happen, however, in fast-pace animation style to sort his problem out. Forky has developed the habit of hurling himself into trash cans to try to “belong”.
With Andy gone, and the toys belonging to Bonnie, Woody is upset that he is no longer Bonnie’s favourite toy. On the road trip, Forky, confused and uncertain about his identity, jumps out of the car and runs away, not knowing to whom he belongs. Woody feels obligated to rescue Forky, and jumps out after him. In trying to locate Forky, Woody becomes separated from the other toys, near to a small town, and in the town, Woody finds his long-lost girl friend, Bo-Peep.
Bo-Peep is free-willed and adventurous, and has her own ideas of what makes a real toy. Toys can differ in what they want from life and the realisation of that assists Woody to help Forky change and become a better toy. Starting life as a home-made toy, and with Woody’s and Bo-Peep’s help, Forky solves his dilemma and develops a new identity. Duke Caboom (voiced by Keanu Reeves), who also helps Forky, is a character that hugely entertains along the way.
Pixar has a reputation for developing high resolution, vivid, computer-generated colour images, and this movie achieves its goals in an outstanding way. Its images are visually innovative, and they bring colourful action to story lines that are emotionally involving, and pursue moral themes.This movie is virtually a smorgasbord of good moral messages, which Pixar impressively delivers: Change is good and can help people become what they want to be; identity is something to be sought purposefully; change, if good, is something to be personally valued; “loyalty” is an especially important part of that mix; and a sense of “belongingness” should be encouraged.
The movie’s story is conveyed ingeniously by its imagery, and is very positive in nature. With the exceptional quality of the film’s animation, the film stands on its own, and is directed to have enormous appeal to both children and their parents. Final scenes suggest this may be the last Toy Story movie we are likely to see. The quality of this movie further tells us this will be a great pity.
Peter W. Sheehan is Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and Pixar Animation Studios
Released June 20, 2019