While it’s true that it’s Woody who says the line I put in the title of my review, you could also argue that this is Pixar’s logic with the Toy Story franchise. The original Toy Story was what put them on the map, and since then they made two sequels and a couple of TV specials. And the trilogy as it was known is considered one of the best and most complete trilogies ever made. So when Toy Story 4 was announced…many people weren’t sure this was a good idea. Myself included. But after watching the film, it definitely has a heartwarming place in the saga. Even if it’s not the best film of the bunch.
As you know doubt know via the trailers and commercials, Toy Story 4 is about Woody trying to save a newly made toy of Bonnie’s named Forky from being lost and separated from her forever. This may sound like the plot to Toy Story 2 and 3 in some ways, but it’s different in many significant aspects. Not the least of which was that Forky was literally MADE by Bonnie instead of a toy she had beforehand. And more than that, Woody is trying to keep this kid happy in a desperate attempt to get back part of what he lost in Toy Story 3.
Because as the beginning of the movie beautifully shows (and a friend pointed out to me before seeing the film) the Toy Story franchise is truly about how life moves on despite our desires and hopes that everything will be the same. For Woody, he accepted in Toy Story 3 that it was time to let Andy go and be Bonnie’s toy with Buzz, Jessie and the rest of the gang. But it’s clear that it’s not the same to him. He doesn’t just want Bonnie’s attention (which was one of the plot points of Toy Story 3), he wants fulfillment, a true feeling that he’s doing good in her life as he did with Andy. And when Forky gets made (via his help…), he thinks he has that. But everything changes when Bonnie goes on a vacation, Forky gets lost, and then Woody meets Bo Peep for the first time in 9 years.
When Toy Story 3 came around, many were crushed that Bo Peep and her sheep were gone. And now, we found out not only what made Molly get rid of her, but her literal origin story, and what she’s been up to over the years. This is most definitely a different Bo Peep from the original Toy Story films, and that’s kind of a good thing. This Bo Peep is strong, most confident, and one has seen just as much as Woody, if not more. She doesn’t mind being a “lost toy” because she knows that instead of having one kid, she can make dozens, hundreds, thousands happy just by being available when they come around.
This was a concept touched upon in the second and third movies, but here it’s shown in a much greater light via new characters like Duckie and Bunnie, Duke Kaboom (more on him later!) and the “antagonist” of the film, Gabby Gabby. For these toys, having a kid is more meaningful and important than just about anything. And their desire to have a kid is a major driving force in their lives. Which drives Gabby Gabby to basically hold Forky hostage so she can get a “key item” from Woody so that she herself can have what Woody has had twice.
It’s for this reason that Toy Story 4 honestly really works. Because it’s an extension of the story that we’ve heard the toys talk about before, but we’re seeing it in a light that feels fresh with characters we’re still getting to know more about and a kid who is very different from Andy. While Bonnie may not be the character Andy was per se, that’s not her role. But when you see her mourn the loss of Forky in the film, you want her to be happy and are begging Woody to get back to her so that she can be happy once again.
But, I also loved and appreciated the fact that Toy Story didn’t go the “typical route” like they honestly did with Toy Story 1 and 2, and instead played it fast and fresh like they did in Toy Story 3. Because after finding out that Gabby honestly isn’t evil (meaning this is the first Toy Story film without a true antagonist like Sid, the Prospector, and Lotso Love), Woody tries to get her to join Bonnie. And it seems like a copout until Gabby sees another little girl in need of courage and love. So she goes to her instead.
And I think that’s one of the more beautiful lessons that this movie has to offer. We don’t think about it as much when we’re kids, but the toys we had, or the stuffed animals we clung to as children were our courage. They allowed us to get through tough times, even when we didn’t fully understand what was going on. Woody was that for Andy, Bo Peep was that Molly, Forky became that for Bonnie, and now Gabby Gabby got her turn.
As I’m sure you all read between the lines to figure out, Toy Story 4 is the ‘last story’ of Woody, but he’s given the sendoff that he not only deserves but feels true to his story and his arc. He’s done all he can for both Andy and Bonnie, now it’s time to go live a life of making other kids happy, even if it’s only getting them the toys that can make them happy. That may not be the “perfect ending” that many might have wanted for this series (i.e. Toy Story 3), but it’s still one that sticks to the motif of life moving on from the “perfect picture”.
And YES! I admit it! I cried, or at the very least I teared up at certain key moments of the story. It’s honestly hard not too and I’m 29! But that’s the beauty of Toy Story, no matter your age, you’re going to connect with these toys, and certain things will make you sad.
BUT, Toy Story 4 is also insanely funny. Between Duckie and Bunnie (who almost stole the show in my opinion), Duke Kaboom (played by Keanu Reeves to glorious effect, he should get his own spinoff!!!), and classics like Buzz and Jessie and a certain toy of Bonnie’s who clearly has issues…it’s a hilarious romp. And stay after the immediate credits to get even more laughs.
Now…that being said…there are a few faults with the film. Despite the film actually being kind of short, certain parts did feel like they dragged on a bit. Also, for those who wanted to see more of Buzz, Jesse, and the original crew (plus Bonnie’s toys), you’re going to be limited. And I was a little disappointed in the rather uncertain nature that Buzz had in this film as he tried to find his “inner voice”. But despite these small flaws, Toy Story 4 is proof that Pixar can almost do no wrong with these characters.
And we will love these characters…to Infinity and Beyond…
Toy Story 4 Review
While not perfect, Toy Story 4 shows exactly why it deserved to be made. Between hilarious new characters, a gripping story featuring a beloved cowboy, and a new look at the connection between kids and their toys, Toy Story 4 is a movie everyone will enjoy.