Our Spoiler Free Thoughts On Toy Story 4!

In 1995 Pixar began its cinematic journey with its first feature Toy Story. In those 25 years, 21 features (including Toy Story 4) have been released and the Toy Story films remain the high bench in quality storytelling, audience entertainment, and animation advancement. Toy Story 4 maintains that proud tradition.

With the exception of a brief flashback at the beginning of the film, the story remains in the continuity in which they toys now belong to Bonnie. The routine is the same with them falling to the ground each time a human appears and springing to life in the human’s absence. Bonnie is still young but is finally beginning her first day of school as she goes to Kindergarten Orientation. Because Bonne has difficulty making friends she actually “makes a friend.” Bonnie makes Forky during arts and crafts and having “him” with her gets her through the day. As a reward for navigating her first day of school, Bonnie’s parents take a road trip during which most of the film takes place. At a pitstop on this road trip is where we are introduced to the new characters who take over most of the film’s story.

As is tradition with each new Toy Story we are introduced to new toys who become central to the plot of the film. The newest and most important addition to the story’s voice cast is Tony Hale (Arrested Development and Veep) as Forky. Providing some of the film’s biggest laughs are two stuffed animals from a carnival named Ducky and Bunny are voiced by the comedic duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (the sketch comedy show Key & Peele and the film Keanu) respectively. And speaking of Keanu, Keanu Reeves (John Wick, The Matrix) voices Canadian Stuntman Toy Duke Caboom.

One of the most adorable additions is Giggle McDimples as a Polly Pocket-like toy voiced by Ally Maki (Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger). Giggle is besties with Bo Peep (Annie Potts returning to the role she played in Toy Story 1 & 2). And no Toy Story film is complete without the traditional tragic antagonist; here in the role of an older doll with a pull-string voice box who was designed to be a little girl’s companion named Gabby Gabby voiced by Christina Hendricks (Mad Men, Firefly).

Another tradition is the quality in the computer-generated art for the film. While the humans are not supposed to look spot on like us, they still have freckles and wrinkles and expressions that are very human. And the backgrounds in some instances leave you questioning if what you are seeing is animated or live action. There is always one scene in every Pixar film in which the animation is so well done I forget that I am watching something animated. For Toy Story 4, that one scene is in the beginning of the film and takes place in a storm gutter on a rainy night in which a toy is caught in the current. My eyes squint and focused because the lighting, water flow, and toy itself looked so real that out of context it would be a real challenge to determine if it was a live action shot or not.

And speaking of traditions, the Toy Story films have always been a perfect balance of things that make us laugh and things that make us cry. The jokes still manage to be able to hit the wide age range from 6-year-old to 60-year-old and is never crass or low hanging. And the drama and tragedy is universally relatable and thematically consistent through the series without ever becoming stale or repetitive. In the screening I attended the audience laughed and felt the emotional impact of the story and though these films are becoming more emotional as time progresses no one left the theater upset or on a down note. As always Pixar delivers an engaging, fun, and poignant film for the whole family.

Toy Story 4 is in theatres everywhere now! Run out and see it! And don’t forget to bring your tissues!