Simply put, Toy Story 4 is a solid follow up to the best in the Toy Story franchise, Toy Story 3, which was released in 2010 and which went on to become the highest grossing film in the series, ($415 million U.S). Toy Story 3 was the only film in the franchise to earn the coveted Best Picture Oscar nomination. It won the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar. (The Best Animated Feature Oscar category was not around when the first two Toy Story movies were released).
Toy Story 4 begins where the third ends. Andy is all grown up and goes off to college. Bonnie is now in charge of all his toys. But Woody (Tom Hanks) has a decision to make, go with Andy or stay behind with Bonnie. Bo Peep helps him decide… to stay with Bonnie. She goes off with Andy, along with her three headed sheep.
Unfortunately for Woody, he is no longer the leader of the toys, as he is not Bonnie’s favorite. He is left in the closet three times in one week. On Bonnie’s orientation day for kindergarten she is not supposed to take any toys with her. But she seems so sad that Woody climbs into her backpack to be there for her. Once in the class, the teacher asks all the kids to do a craft project, but Bonnie just sits there. Woody jumps into the trash bin and collects a few items; a spork, a popsicle stick that he breaks in half, a pair of plastic glue-on eyes, red pipe cleaner and some putty. And, voila, Forky comes to life. However, Forky (Tony Hale) wants nothing more than to return to the trash bin, the only place he has ever known. Nonetheless, Forky becomes Bonnie’s new best toy friend and Woody does whatever it takes – and I mean whatever – to make sure Forky sticks with Bonnie. One of the best lines in the movie is Woody telling Forky, who just wants to live in the trash bin, and who keeps jumping into it, is “I just can’t let you throw your life away.”
Since kindergarten doesn’t start until the week after the day orientation ends, Bonnie’s parents decide to go on an RV trip. Forky wants none of it and jumps out of the moving RV, five miles before the family gets to the RV park and carnival grounds where they spend the week. And thus the action begins. Woody jumps out of the moving RV in an attempt to reunite Forky with Bonnie. The next seventy minutes are full of adventure.
After capturing Forky and almost back at the RV park where Bonnie and her family are, Woody walks by an antique store and thinks he sees Bo Peep. He drags Forky and himself through the mail slot and, what would any Disney movie be without an evil character or two, (and this case five), out pop a few identical ventriloquist dummies and Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks).
While this incarnation doesn’t have all of the heart of the first three Toy Story films, the new characters it introduces are all welcome additions, including Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), a toy who is a motorcycle daredevil, with zero self confidence. Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key add some humor with their plush stuffed animal characters, Bunny and Ducky, respectively.
Toy Story 4 will undoubtedly become the highest grossing film in the franchise (not accounting for inflation) and will most likely earn close to $170 million or more its first three days in theaters. (It would have had a chance to earn more, but lower children’s ticket prices will factor into its box office total).
Parents and kids, grandparents and children of all ages will not be disappointed.
Make sure you stay through the end of the credits, as Bunny and Ducky do something great for their fellow carnival prize toys who are without kids of their own. But, literally, the best is saved for last. Forky finds true love.
Actually, don’t be surprised if there is a Forky spin-off. He steals the movie.
Toy Story 4 Review by Tim Nasson