Toy Story 4 is probably the film that most people were looking forward to seeing while being worried that it would ruin a perfect trilogy.
Toy Story 3 ends with Andy donating his toys to little girl Bonnie, including his long-time best friend Woody the sheriff. They play together before he leaves, and the toys can finally start their new lives with Bonnie. We all thought that was it!
None us was expecting a new chapter after this bittersweet and yet lovely ending, but here we are, following the new adventures of our favourite heroes 9 years later. I’m always a bit scared of being disappointed when a new installment is made so much time after the last one. Have we lost the magic? Fortunately, the magic is still here for me! First, because the animation is incredibly beautiful and also, because it takes our beloved Woody to another lever.
Funny thing to mention: there were no kids at all in the room when I was at the cinema!
-Spoilers alert! –
Woody has always been very dedicated to his kids. When little Bonnie burst into tears before going to kindergarten orientation, Woody sneaks into her backpack to help her get through the day. She creates a new friend at school named Forky, made of lollipop sticks and a spork, who comforts her more than any of the other toys. From this moment on, Woody’s mission is to keep Bonnie’s new favourite toy around, as Forky isn’t willing to embrace his new life as a toy and would rather throw himself away every chance he gets.
When the little girl takes the whole gang to a family trip, Forky jumps out of the window and Woody goes after him to try and make him understand how important he is to Bonnie. They will meet old and new friends along the way that leads them back to Bonnie.
The first thing to say about this film is that all the Toy Story’s classic themes are front and centre again: an existential crisis and insecurities, the importance of moving on, the rescue of a lost toy… though Forky (Tony Hale) is supposed to be the main character here, we can tell that it is really about Woody (Tom Hanks) trying to figure out his place in the world, as the film goes.
In my opinion, Toy Story 4 is possibly the weirdest film Pixar has ever made, as this film is like a horror film for kids. Most of the scenes in the antique store are pretty creepy, and there are a lot of references to iconic horror films such as The Shining or Chucky. I actually got lost in the film during these scenes, and I was expecting to scream and jump , forgetting that it was a Pixar film =)
But I can’t tell you how many times I laughed to tears as well! The dialogues are brilliant and smart, with a sharp sense of humour and the film is full of running gags involving Forky’s desperate attempts to throw himself away, Buzz (Tim Allen) and his inner voice and Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny’s (Jordan Peele) fantasies.
Ducky and Bunny would totally deserve their own spin off by the way, as they are the most entertaining characters in the entire series to me.
And obviously, like all Pixar movies, this one also pulls at our heart strings more than once, and I found myself fighting back some tears in the final moments.
Woody is like a father figure to the new characters, he takes care of Fork and teaches him the meaning of being a toy, he calms Duke Caboom’s (Keanu Reeves) insecurities and helps him build his confidence and he gives his voice box away to the most endearing villain ever Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) so she can be chosen by a kid. The wisdom, the sacrifices, the positive behaviour towards somebody who lack of confidence are qualities that we can get while growing up.
And when we thought Woody was finally where he was supposed to be, the return of Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who has been a lost toy for years, shakes his belief. She finds independence fulfilling and loves being free whereas it is Woody’s biggest fear. When he meets Bo Peep again, it is his turn to become a proper adult and to make some tough decisions, as Bo Peep shows him that independence is the first step of growing up.
That’s why in the end, I have the feeling that Woody’s character is the embodiment of our own growth. He went from a friendly but slightly arrogant and insecure character in Toy Story 1 to a responsible adult, finding peace of mind eventually in number 4. He’s not just saying goodbye to his friends, he’s embracing his new adult life and letting go of his childhood as well.
What if it was the perfect ending we were all waiting for unconsciously?