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July 6, 2019

Toy Story 4 (2019) --- “On The Road Of Life, There Are Old Friends, New Friends, And Stories That Change You.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Woody (Tom Hanks) is trying his best to adjust to life with new kid Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) and while he is forgotten most often than not, Woody continues to remain focused on ensuring Bonnie’s happiness. Subsequently, this means keeping a 24/7 watch on Bonnie’s new toy, Forky (Tony Hale) a spork with pipe-cleaners for hands and popsicle sticks for feet who know its trash and feels that his only destination is the trash can. While trying to keep Bonnie’s trash-oriented new toy safe and ensure her happiness, Woody gets swept into an accidental adventure where he meets old friends (Annie Potts), new friends (Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, and Christina Hendricks), and learns new truths about himself and his purpose in life. Directed by Josh Cooley (Inside Out) and written by Rashida Jones (The Grinch) among other writers, Toy Story 4 (2019) is a heartfelt and humorous new addition that reignites the magic behind the meaning “No toy gets left behind.”

     24 years ago Pixar’s came out with Toy Story (1995) and to this day its release has changed how animation films are being made. Toy Story presented both a new way and a higher standard of storytelling that ensures that not all animated family films are made just for kids. And with the release of not one but two successful sequels, Toy Story has demonstrated that sequels are not meant to be empty, one-dimensional cash-grabs that will be forgotten in less than a year. There are only a handful of cases where a series sequel films were met with the same, if not higher, level of success that was awarded to the original: The Godfather, Incredibles, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars, although the last two are subject to a number of opinions that say otherwise.
     After the huge success Toy Story 3 (2010) which was thought to be the series’ conclusion, the announcement of Toy Story 4 (2019) seemed like it might be the one film in the series that turned out to be an easy cash grab for Disney. Nonetheless, I gave this film the benefit of a doubt, which I always try to do with every film, and I am pleased to say that it is a worthy addition to the series. It is entertaining and emotionally profound for both kids and adults. The story picks up not long after the events of Toy Story 3 and it kicks into gear real quick. The story does allow enough time for each character to some screen time, both new and old, but this is truly a film about Woody and him coming to a new chapter in his life. By the end of the film, Toy Story 4 feels like a necessary final chapter to the story but at the same time, it could easily continue with more installments that follow a new set of characters and opens the door for the next generation of fans.
     The cast performances were nostalgic, fun, and interesting. Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) delivers one of his best performances in the series as Woody, and his story is both beautiful and slightly tragic in a way. Tim Allen (Last Man Standing) returns as Buzz Lightyear with an even more humorous performance and this film’s portrayal of his friendship with Woody is at its finest. Annie Potts (Young Sheldon) as Bo Peep has been an elusive character from the start. In the first two films, her screen time was so short that all we got from it was that she was Woody’s love interest and by the third film she had disappeared entirely without any explanation. But this time we are introduced to a genuinely interesting character that proves be more than just your average porcelain-lamp-figurine. The rest of the returning characters gave great performances as well but I would have to say that the performance from the late Don Rickles (1926 - 2017) as Mr. Potatoe Head was a surprising element. Although he passed away before filming for this film started that didn’t stop filmmakers from keeping him in the film rather than giving him a vague exit. By using audio recordings from the previous three films, the filmmakers managed to come up with enough dialogue to keep the character in the film. Newcomers like Tony Hale (Arrested Development) as Forky, Jordan Peele (Get Out) as Ducky, Keegan Michael-Key (The Predator) as Bunny, Keanu Reeves (John Wick 3) as Duke Kaboom, and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) as Gabby Gabby also gave some memorable performances that we won’t be easily forgotten. Of the new characters the most noteworthy would be Keanu Reeves and Christina Hendricks. Reeves gave a humorous performance that I have not seen from him before and it was a refreshing sight to see. Hendricks made a fantastic antagonist, probably the best one in the series because you never actually understood what her true intentions were until the very end. All in all, all of the characters presented performances that were emotional, dramatic, and humorous.
     Overall, Toy Story 4 (2019) was a heartfelt, humorous, engaging, and entertaining new addition into the series. The story was truly a story about Woody coming to a new chapter in his life and touches upon the true meaning of “No toy gets left behind.” The ending both closes the series but also leaves it open enough should filmmakers decided to continue with the newer cast of characters. The voice performances were incredible. The returning characters, including Dick Rickles, were nostalgic, while the new characters expand and refresh the series. In the end, Toy Story 4 (2019) could have easily been an empty and easy cash grab for Disney. However, they once again proved us wrong by delivering a successful sequel that does the series justice. I highly recommend that watch this film and I can ensure you that there are enough humor and depth to keep both the kids and the adults entertained. 

Final Vote --- 9.2 of 10 stars

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