As in all Disney film, reviewers were cautioned not to reveal any spoilers like key plot points or plot twists. Disney has nothing to worry about here as there aren’t that many in TOY STORY 4 though the story gets a bit darker that the other films in the franchise. Eve the film’s poster is a tad darker. The appearance of multiple “Chucky” looking dolls, the ventriloquist dummies create a scarier animated feature though no less entertaining.
Number 4 already and the TOY STORY franchise is still going strong. John Lasseter still works in TOY STORY 4 (he directed the fist two) here serving as executive producer and one of the writers.
TOY STORY 4 starts where number 3 left off. Andy has given his toys including Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) to Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw). When Bonnie attends kindergarten orientation, she creates a new toy from a plastic fork which she names Forky. This is when the trouble begins. Forky (Tony Hale) suffers from an existential crisis about being a toy, which the others try to help him understand how to be one. As Bonnie and her family go on a road trip, Forky escapes and Woody goes to save him, becoming separated from the group near a small town. As Buzz and the others try to help find Woody, Woody finds Bo Peep (Annie Potts) among other toys in the town’s antique shop, and she gives him a new outlook on what being a toy is really about.
The story cleverly avoids any pitfalls like a boring and unnecessary romance. The bond between Woody and Bo Beep is played delivering the message and in offering a different outlook on their arguments, but expect no kisses from the couple.
TOY STORY 4 bungles at the start, with the setting upon the story running in a slow moving rather boring part. It picks up after the first third and confidentially accomplishes what all the other 3 TOY STORIES do best – all the toys rallying together to work for their owner child human masters, serving their purpose as a toy, which even in animation terms is a thankless and tiring job. The film slides in a few messages as well, such as the importance of loyalty.
The film contains an impressive list of voice characterizations including the old school Carol Burnett, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner with Keanu Reeves stealing the show with his “I Canada” as Canadian motorcycle stunt man Duke Caboom.
The introduction of the ventriloquist dummies that obey the huge villainous doll Gabby Gabby’s (Christina Hendricks) every bidding is the film’s prize. No wonder they are called dummies. Gabby Gabby looks like Chucky with very sad eyes.
The film’s look, at caravan/trailer park and the the dodgy amusement parked does not paint a wealthy and healthy look of America, but a glum one, full or conmen and suckers. Still the film has a happy ending with a message for all. Who can complain?