Who doesn’t love Pixar. They’re a workshop of creative geniuses who continue to shine with each new project and now they take us back to the place that started it all in a new chapter of Toy Story with Toy Story 4, and it makes for one amazing adventure.
Woody (Tom Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world, and that his priority is taking care of his owner, whether that is Andy or Bonnie. So when Bonnie’s beloved new craft-project-turned-toy, Forky (Tony Hale), declares himself as “trash” and not a toy, Woody takes it upon himself to show Forky why he should embrace being a toy. But when Bonnie takes the whole gang on her family’s road trip excursion, Woody ends up on an unexpected detour that includes a reunion with his long-lost girlfriend Bo Peep (Annie Potts). After years of being on her own, Bo’s adventurous spirit and life on the road belie her delicate porcelain exterior. As Woody and Bo realize they are worlds apart when it comes to life as a toy, they soon come to find that it is the least of their worries.
Director Josh Cooley takes us on a bold new direction with Toy Story 4 and it’s road trip time as Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang find themselves on a cross country journey that leads to plenty of drama and life-affirming moments. Foremost amongst them is Woody’s new responsibility to safeguard Bonnie’s new favourite toy, Forky, a plastic spork who has come to life through the magic of play time and who gives Woody a real run for his money. Voicing Forky is comedian Tony Hale and his performance is nothing short of genius with his incredibly dry sense of humour that really brings out the laughs here, especially when combined with Tom Hanks classic performance as Woody, who for the most part just can’t fathom that the world is moving on around him, and he’s yet to adapt.
Right at the heart of Toy Story 4 is Hanks’ Woody who has lived his life trying to make the joys of children come to life, but here in a brand new location, he’s offered the first chance at his own kind of happiness. That occurs with a chance encounter with one-time love interest Bo Peep, played by Annie Potts, who is definitely not the toy that Woody remembered and together these two go on an action-packed adventure to reunite Forky with Bonnie. Cooley brings out the chemistry between Woody and Bo here and the sparks really fly up on screen, as do plenty of daring stunts and there are moments in Toy Story 4 that will definitely leave your eyes wide open. This time around there’s also considerable character development for Hanks’ Woody and it’s fun to see him evolve and mature as a character throughout the film’s narrative.
But if there’s one character who absolutely steals the show here then it most definitely Keanu Reeves as Canada’s greatest ever motorcycle champion Duke Caboom! From the minute he rolls onto the screen, Reeves is just a hoot as Caboom, a one-time daredevil stunt toy who failed in his trick, and who now suffers from an over-the-top ego and a frightening case of toy-like PTSD. All of this leads to plenty of outlandish moments on the case of Caboom and Reeves revels in the part. The veteran actor was a great find for the film, and it’s fun to watch him poke fun at both his Canadian heritage, along with his passion for motorcycles, and his involvement in Toy Story 4 leads to plenty of big jump moments and a whole lot of laughs.
If you’re looking for laughs with Toy Story 4, well, you’ve come to the right place because this movie is packed out with them. Key to the laughs alongside Reeves, is the presence of Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key as Bunny and Ducky, a pair of sideshow plush toys who have a run in with Buzz Lightyear and who continually spout off one hilarious anecdote after another. These two will seriously have you laughing your head off, and they definitely add a whole lot to this bold new animated film. But if there’s one laugh that really got me going then it has to go to the ever dependable Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) whose by-the-book approach to managing Forky left me howling with laughter.
But along with the bigger than life spectacle and outlandish laughter, Toy Story 4 also has a strong message about what it means to grow and evolve as an individual and for Woody this holds a lot of sway in the film. While his responsibility has always been to save guard the lives of the children he cares for, such as Andy and Bonnie, Woody has to come to terms with the fact that life changes and that sometimes even toys have to grow up. It’s an extremely heartfelt narrative on the part of Cooley and it really brings everything together.
Audiences, both young and old, will have a fantastic time out with Toy Story 4 and with its’ combination of laughs and love demands to be seen on the big screen.
Image: Walt Disney Pictures