Movie Review: Toy Story 4 (2019)

Title: Toy Story 4
Release Date: June 21, 2019
Director: Josh Cooley
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Pixar Animation Studios

With Toy Story 3 tying up the Toy Story saga so well, the biggest question I had about Toy Story 4 is what reason does it have to exist. What stories does Toy Story have left to tell? It turns out that there are several smaller stories that are somewhat awkwardly tied together to make this movie.

First, Woody is questioning his purpose now that he’s no longer the leader of the toys and Bonnie doesn’t pick him to play with.

Second, to deal with the anxiety of starting Kindergarten, Bonnie makes a toy out of a spork and scraps named Forky who becomes her new favorite. Forky does not comprehend his existence and does not want to be a toy. The Forky plot is not as prominent as the trailers indicate.

Third, Woody reunites with Bo who has found freedom and empowerment as a “lost toy,” getting played with by kids who find her in a playground.

Finally, Gabby Gabby is a talking doll in an antique shop who was never owned by a child due to a defective voice box. She holds Forky hostage in order to get Woody’s voicebox.

All of these stories intertwine in a small town where Bonnie’s family stays in an RV campground near the antique shop. A park with a carnival and a playground sits between the two. The main plot involves Woody, Bo, and Buzz attempting to rescue Forky with the help of two carnival prize toys, Ducky and Bunny, and Duke Caboom, a Canadian stuntman toy.

Unfortunately, the core toy group of Jessie, Rex, Hamm, Slinky Dog, and the Potato Heads, and even Buzz to a certain extent, are reduced in their roles in a busy movie. Gabby redeems herself and is never the villain of the level of Stinky Pete or Lotso. Her henchmen ventriloquist dummies are creepy but the fright factor is turned down. In the finale, Woody realizes that Bonnie does not need him and he can find happiness with Bo as a lost toy. It’s a moving farewell and certainly must be the absolute ending of the Toy Story series.

Rating: ***1/2