The heart of ‘Toy Story 4’ is swollen with emotion, in the best way possible.
Equal parts beautiful and completely gut-wrenching, ‘Toy Story 4’ uses everything that has worked to the franchise’s advantage up to now in order to create something so stunning that it’s hard to fault.
There are old friends like Mr and Mrs Potato Head, Bullseye, Jessie... So the nostalgia is real. But we're given some new personalities to play with too, and a familiar romance is revisited in Woody and Bo Peep. Yep... Her absence from the third film is explored here, and questions are answered.
What really gives ‘Toy Story 4’ its strength is the complexity of the messages it is sending. It focuses on the idea that toys without owners aren't necessarily 'lost' if they wanted to live an independent life all along – but also the conflicting theory that every child needs a toy to play with.
Andy's toys – now handed down to new child, Bonnie – all feel as though they're fulfilling a prophecy and that they have a purpose. When Bonnie literally 'makes' a new friend at school, Forky, they all do their best to make sure he feels like he fits in, even though he's made from things found in the garbage.
'Toy Story 4''s script is impressively written. There's great use of running gags, for example Forky being completely convinced that he's trash, or Buzz using the talking buttons on his chest to make difficult decisions. Rex is still unreasonably anxious and jumpy, Ham is as sarcastic as ever... The gang are just as we remember them. New cast additions such as Duke Kaboom (Keanu Reeves), Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key), and Bunny (Jordan Peele) are all great, and each serve their own important purpose in furthering the plot. No new characters feel unnecessary here. That's an achievement in itself when you consider the sheer size of this cast.
Much like all the other films in this franchise, '4' has a twist of darkness too. And Disney/Pixar do darkness in a trademark creepy way... Especially when toys are involved.
Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her ventriloquist dummy friends are all initially terrifying; a few screams from little ones were heard in the cinema on more than one occasion when they appeared on screen. That's mostly the extent of it, but it's not pleasant. The ventriloquist dummies in particular are uncomfortable to look at.
Otherwise, what goes on is another action-packed 'Toy Story' quest, and with each adventure the toys go on, new lessons are learned and new friends are made. Hands down, the biggest accomplishment of 'Toy Story 4' is the fact that it feels simultaneously fresh and so charmingly recognisable.
Oh, and if you cried during 'Toy Story 3' (who didn't?), prepare to bring tissues for this one. Potentially more tissues. The ending of this film is devastating. And that's all that can be said... You'll have to see it to experience it.
It's beautiful, it's genuinely hilarious, and it's nostalgic. 'Toy Story 4' felt unneeded when it was announced, but the things that happen throughout this hour and 40 minutes make perfect sense, and add more depth and sentiment to this tale than perhaps any of the other films.