Woody and co will make you heartily smile in the heartfelt and wholesome fourth outing.
For years, the Toy Story franchise has been a much-loved saga for audiences young and old. You would be forgiven for being slightly apprehensive in the arrival of a fourth instalment after nine years of being off the grid. Was it really a good idea to bring back Woody and co after so long? What could they seriously add to the story that hasn’t already been told? Fear not, Pixar and the reliable hands of Josh Cooley and screenwriters Rashida Jones, Andrew Stanton, Will McCormack and Stephany Falsom have given us all a reason to heartily smile once more at Woody’s paternal instincts for his new kid.
Now under the ownership of Bonnie, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang are still going strong. On Bonnie’s first day at nursery, Woody is fraught with worry that Bonnie just won’t be able to cope so he sneaks into her bag to keep an eye on her. Before too long, Bonnie gets her chance to create her own toy, Forky (Tony Hale) and like a security blanket this plastic fork made out of trash, despite trying to escape into the bin every time her back is turned, becomes her crutch of comfort.
Despite being neglected in favour of this new toy, Woody and co only want to keep Bonnie happy. So, whilst on a trip away, surprise surprise, Forky goes missing in the midst of a carnival, and Woody and gang are forced into a rather unpleasant situation in his retrieval when they encounter some creepy abandoned toys in an antique shop.
The running theme for the franchise plays out the same in the fourth, it tends to rehash the same values of abandoned toys for new ones, but thanks to clever writing that digs deep into the pit of the stomach for a belly laugh or two it remains heartfelt and wholesome rounded off with a big cuddly hug from your favourite childhood teddy bear.
As well as the returning characters of Woody (Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Allen) homage is paid to the toys of the past with nice little flashback sequences to their time with Andy. However, it’s the newest characters on the block which truly are the scene stealers, particularly that of Keanu Reeves Duke Caboom and comedy duo Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key as Bunny and Duckie. Other new characters aren’t so friendly including the doll, Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her Hench ventriloquist puppets who quite frankly, freaked the shit out of me, so let that be a warning for those under the age of at least 5.
This time, the toys have become the parents, having reached a certain maturity not only have they peaked but so has the franchise. It hits all the right gender equality notes that seem more of a trend in our current climate than just a natural happening and it stays lovingly loyal to the characters we’ve all come to cherish over the past 24 years, but it may just be time to tuck our childhood memories into a box and say goodnight.
Toy Story 4 hits cinemas June 21st