Title: Toy Story 4
Directed by: Josh Cooley
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts
Release Date: June 21, 2019
Reviewed by: Lori Twichell
FA Scorecard: A+
Twenty-four years ago, an unexpected movie answered a question that most people didn’t realize they have: “What happens to a toy when a kid leaves the room?” It gave life to the most inanimate yet loved creatures in a child’s life and gave us characters that would live in cinematic history. Now, they’re all back for their fourth grand adventure and it’s just as good, if not better, than all three previous films.
Our story opens nine years ago, when one of the toys, RC, accidentally gets left outside. It’s raining, which is horrifying weather for a toy (especially one with batteries!) and our crew launches into what appears to be a seamless rescue effort. Knowing instinctually what everyone needs, it’s not long before the toy is safely ensconced back in the room and everyone’s breathing a sigh of relief. Well, mostly. Another danger looms and it comes out of nowhere. Bo is being given away. And this time, Woody can’t save her.
It’s no surprise that along with the laughs, antics, and over the top toy hilarity, our beloved crew of friends also brings with them another emotionally power packed story. It’s a given at this point that no sentimental string is going to to untugged. And trust, me, they’re all pulled this time around. After years without Bo, Woody finds himself in the unfortunate position of not being the most beloved toy. It’s a hard pill for him to swallow.
And then there’s Forky.
The new member of the crew. He’s really not a toy but Bonnie made him, she loves, him, and she brought him to life. So it’s up to Woody and the gang to teach him how to be a toy. This is not as easy as you might think but it is just as hilarious as you could imagine. Poor Forky has no clue who he is or why he’s hanging out with toys. He knows he’s not a toy and he just doesn’t get it. Forky turned out to be one of my favorite characters of the entire franchise.
As with many of the Disney and Pixar films over the last few years, this movie has far more than just entertainment value. Deep, resonating life messages run through almost every scene of this film. What is our purpose? What if we know that we’ve already fulfilled our purpose? How do you accept that you aren’t what you always thought you were? How do you move into the next season of your life? Is it okay to leave some things behind?
These are not questions you think you’d be contemplating when you leave a kid’s film. Toy Story isn’t really only for the kids is it? With a franchise that’s nearly a quarter of a century old, many of the people in the theater weren’t even born yet when the first film released. And yet the movie (and indeed the whole series) manages to speak to everyone, no matter where they are in their journey. That’s the brilliance of it. You’ll take away more than you ever imagined possible. Don’t miss this chance to go and shed worries, stress, bills and the anxiety that comes with adulthood. You may even leave with a stronger feeling of identity and who you are for the next phase of life.
And even if you don’t get the heavier stuff, it’s a guarantee that you’ll laugh a lot, might cry a little, and you’ll leave feeling lighter than you did when you walked into the theater.