Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
Tom Hanks … Woody (voice)
Tim Allen … Buzz Lightyear (voice)
Annie Potts … Bo Beep (voice)
Keanu Reeves … Duke Caboom (voice)
Christina Hendricks … Gabby Gabby (voice)
Jay Hernandez … Bonnie's Dad (voice)
Timothy Dalton … Mr. Pricklepants (voice)
Kristen Schaal … Trixie (voice)
Keegan-Michael Key … Ducky (voice)
Jordan Peele … Bunny (voice)
Betty White … Bitey White (voice)
Wallace Shawn … Rex (voice)
Mel Brooks … Melephant Brooks (voice)
Joan Cusack … Jessie (voice)
Laurie Metcalf … Mrs. Davis (voice)
Don Rickles … Mr. Potato Head (voice) (archive sound)
Tony Hale … Forky (voice)
John Ratzenberger … Hamm (voice)
Carl Reiner … Carl Reineroceros (voice)
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Pixar Animation Studios
Walt Disney Pictures
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Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
There is no greater calling for a toy than to be a companion for a child. This is a message that Woody and his pals have lived for faithfully over the many decades. First, they spent some wonderful years with their first owner Andy. Then, when it was time for Andy to graduate and pass his toys onto another, Woody and his pals were introduced to their new owner, a young, adorable Kindergartener named Bonnie.
Still, as time passes, Woody can’t help but reflect on the toys who have been left behind, though he, himself, was lucky enough to find another owner. Toys such as RC and his former romantic interest Bo Beep (whom, once her owner, Andy’s sister Molly, decided she was too old for Bo Peep, decided to donate her to, well, who knows where). These toys weren’t so lucky.
As Bonnie begins to play with all the other toys, except Woody, Woody begins to ponder whether he his a purpose anymore. What does he have to live for if not to make a child happy? What is his purpose if not to be played with?
In a turn of events, while Bonnie is in Kindergarten, she makes a friend to help her calm her fears. No, seriously, she MAKES or creates a friend named “Forky,” made of items in the trash (a spork, string, silly putty and broken popsicle sticks). Forky is convinced that he belongs in the trash, that he isn’t a toy. Woody, on the other hand, works as hard as he can to try and convince Forky of his purpose in being there for Bonnie.
Still, Forky’s not convinced and, during an RV road trip, make his escape. Woody, of course, pursues Forky, along the way running into an old friend… Bo Peep. Bo, you see, spent her life with a new owner only to be discarded and has since lived her life as a “lost toy.”
Now Woody is perplexed. Does he return to Bonnie or begin his life anew as Bo Peep suggests? These questions and much more are addressed in “Toy Story 4.”
It’s hard to believe that the first “Toy Story” was introduced to families over 24 years ago. It was there we were introduced to a boy and the adventures of his toys that came to life. What one thought might have been a “one-film franchise,” over 5 years turned into two films, then three and now the fourth. Who could have imagined that each of these films not only could withstand the test of time as a franchise (remember, 11 years passed between Toy Story 2 and 3), but each as stand-alone films.
Each film ALWAYS had something different to offer. The message in each film always resonated to both young and old, and if a film can do that, it is destined to do great things. And yet, knowing Toy Story’s reputation, as I walked into the theatre this afternoon, absolutely NOTHING prepared me for what I was about to witness…
“Toy Story 4” brings the franchise full-circle in the most respectable and fantastical way. From the soundtrack (made up of scores from the first two Toy Story films), to the strain of positive messages scattered throughout the film, to the voice performances of each character, this film invokes a variety of emotions, on various levels—from joy to shock, and yes, even tears (no spoilers I promise). The last time a Disney film made me feel this way was four years ago at the movie “Inside Out.”
“Toy Story 4” brings a large amount nostalgia to the table, while still maintaining its own identity. Yes, perhaps the situations in “Toy Story 4” do seem a bit similar to the previous films, and yet, in the moment, I didn’t care and neither did other adults (and, yes, children) who were laughing and sniffling in the front and back of the theatre.
Violence: Moderate. Toys are seen in several scenes of peril, but no one is ever seriously injured (with possibly the exception of one character). Woody’s head is stepped on by a human (but is okay and is able to inflate his head back to normal). Two toys fall out of a moving RV (they aren’t injured). Buzz gets hit by a door. He is also kicked in the head lightly by a couple stuffed animals at a carnival (though the last time, he’s had enough and catches one of the stuffed animal’s feet in his helmet). In a fantasy sequence, stuffed animals attack an old antiques dealer by jumping on her (this scene happens three times in a row). In the most shocking scene, a toy is eaten by a cat, but is later spit up. Bo Peep’s sheep are slightly injured. One toy gets hit by a carousel. Woody, also, has his voice box surgically taken out of his back and given to another toy (Woody is okay though). In a post-credits fantasy scene, two stuffed animals become giants and shoot lasers at the carnival attendees (no one is injured).
Vulgarity/Profanity: Mild. • “oh my goodness” • “stuff that” • “move your plush” • “Chutes-n-ladders”
Other: There are some ventriloquist dummies that are slightly frightening and place the toys in peril a couple times. For this reason, I wouldn’t bring anyone younger than 8 to see this. We also see the inside fluff of a toy. Bo Peep’s arm comes off in one scene, but she can tape it back on (this is not graphic at all, and I didn’t hear any screams come from the children in the audience).
“Toy Story 4” is covered in a sea of positive messages: courage, bravery, trust, faith, etc. But, for me, the message that stood out the most was the theme of purpose. Throughout the film, Woody and Forky try and determine their purpose to exist: Has Woody fulfilled his purpose, and if so what does he do now? Why would Bonnie create a toy out of garbage? Can garbage really be repurposed to a greater cause?
All Christians have pondered our own purpose in Christ. Even when we feel we have done everything God has commanded and destined for us, what more can we do for Him?
God has instilled in us gifts to use in His service. Some of are known to us from early on (e.g., God made it very clear I was to become a music teacher and inspire children to engage in music and to serve Him in the church). Other Christians must wait on the Lord, over time, for their gifts to be revealed to them, in God’s time and according to HIS purpose:
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” —James 1:17
“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” —1 Corinthians 12:5-6
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” —Matthew 5:14-16
I have reviewed numerous films over the past 12 years. No animated film has touched me as deeply as “Toy Story 4.” It is suitable for almost everyone: children (no younger than 8), teens, and even adults (especially those of us who are old enough to remember the original “Toy Story”). Viewers would benefit in viewing the first three films before seeing “Toy Story 4.” However, that is not completely necessary to truly appreciate this film. In short, I highly recommend “Toy Story 4.” It starts off the summer on a high note and is a relatively safe choice for viewing.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.