It was always going to be contentious. How could you possibly add another film to one of the most beloved film trilogies of all time? Toy Story 4 has at the very least dared to try. Some fans were outraged, others were excited, but it was impossible not to have an opinion on Pixar’s latest release. The film company isn’t new to the sequel game either. Even outside of Toy Story, they’ve followed up the likes of Monsters Inc, The Incredibles, and Finding Nemo (the less said about the Cars franchise, the better), with varying levels of success. So could Pixar reach cinematic magic again with the return of Woody, Buzz and the gang? It was at least worth trying.
Somehow it feels like a sneaky trick. Toy Story 4 opens with a montage of a young Andy, the original owner of Woody and Buzz, playing with the toys. It takes us right back to how those original films felt. Then suddenly we’re transported to the modern-day. Andy’s grown up, the toys now live with the adorable Bonnie, and life’s back to how it always was… or is it? Woody is increasingly being left behind, and in a fit of desperation, sneaks into Bonnie’s backpack for kindergarten orientation. There, Bonnie quite literally ‘makes’ a new friend…Forky, who believes he’s trash (and is likely coming to a relatable meme near you).
Soon Woody, Forky and the rest are scooped up for one last road-trip before kindergarten truly begins. On the way, they meet new friends and old… cue the entrance of Bo Peep, Woody’s old flame. Forky soon escapes, adventures begin, and Woody ultimately must decide… is it better to be a lost toy or, to quote an old classic, ‘a child’s plaything’?
Toy Story 4 is clearly Woody’s story and your mileage may vary in this regard. If he’s your favourite, or just adore Tom Hanks (and who doesn’t? The man even claims he teared up recording his final lines) – you’re all set. If you understandably miss Buzz, Rex, Slinky and the rest, you may end up disappointed. The appearance of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as boisterous funfair toys add the strongest laughs, but the other new additions are mostly forgettable.
So was Toy Story 4 necessary? Some will claim it finally wraps the story up completely, others wish they’d just left the gang on the doorstep in Vol. 3, but hopefully, most will agree that it was heart-warming to spend time with some old pals again. Toy Story still has a friend in me.