Josh Cooley’s Toy Story 4 brings another beautiful installment of heartwarming animated enchantment. Our familiar, beloved characters, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and friends, are joined by some engaging new characters, and even reunite with their old friend Bo Peep (Annie Potts).
Woody is facing career challenges. No longer running Andy’s room, he is Bonnie’s toy, and Dolly (Bonnie Hunt) runs Bonnie’s room. He also has to share the sheriff’s badge with Jessie (Joan Cusack). In an effort to remain involved, Woody assigns himself the job of helping Forky (Tony Hale) adjust to life as a toy.
When Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) takes her favorite friends with her on a family road trip, Forky and Woody end up on an adventure that takes them out of the RV. Along the way, they meet a damaged Gabby Gabby doll (Christina Hendricks) and some creepy ventriloquist dummies. They also meet the carnival prizes, Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), and Bo Peep introduces them to toy motorcycle stunt rider Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves).
It is wonderful to revisit the world of Toy Story, with the friendly banter and warmth that Disney and Pixar have managed to infuse into four movies in a row. An interesting challenge this movie faces, simply due to the popularity and longevity of the franchise, is the nature of the audience. The first movie came out 24 years ago. Most of the audience will have seen at least one of these movies as a child, accepting the magic of what toys do when no one is watching wholeheartedly. These fans, watching a Toy Story movie as adults, may find they have to work to access their inner child in order to appreciate the enchanted world that they embraced naturally when they were younger.
Despite the sacrifices, fulfilled wishes and difficult choices, the audience was not reduced to tears in this story. Key and Peele, with their outrageous humor, were a great addition to the movie, and it is easy to imagine a future Toy Story movie full of more belly laughs and fewer tears. However, it is also possible that this is where Toy Story will end. This movie is a hit. It would not be a bad thing to end on a win.