‘Toy Story 4’
You know the story in “Toy Story 4”: The toys talk, laugh and scheme to remain in the company of children.
“Toy Story 4” reprises the familiar, from the opening song, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me,” written and performed by Randy Newman, who composed the score and also wrote some new songs (“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” figures into the theme and plot line), and concludes with the familiar, a happy ending for the toy and the movie-goer, as well.
The “Toy Story” franchise continues to be one of, if not, the most satisfying feature animation family movies. The Disney-Pixar Animation Studios computer animated film is superb in character conception, movement, expressions, background rendering, details, and action. The animation voice talents are top-notch, and immediately recognizable, especially that of Tom Hanks as Sheriff Woody.
“Toy Story 4” is reassuring, akin to relaxing with an old friend. It’s one of the Summer of 2019 feature movies to look forward to. “Toy Story 4” doesn’t disappoint.
In “Toy Story 4,” the family goes on vacation in a rented RV. Perhaps as a last-day-of-school kindergarten project, their daughter, Bonnie (voiced by Madeleine McGraw), has created her own toy, Forky (voiced by Tony Hale), made from one of those combination plastic forks and spoons, with putty for a mouth and eyebrows, toy googly eyes (or buttons) for eyes, pipe cleaner for arms, and wood popsicle stick pieces for legs.
In terms of “Toy Story” merchandising, Forky could be a loss for Disney because you can make one yourself, as many who have seen “Toy Story 4” are doing. Kudos to Disney for launching a DIY (Do It Yourself) project for summer camp. There are YouTube tutorials on how to make your own Forky. By the way, Forky reminds me of Mr. Bill, the hapless claymation figure in film shorts shown 1976-1981 on “Saturday Night Live.”
“Toy Story 4,” released nine years after “Toy Story 3,” isn’t all sweetness and light. First of all, Andy is gone and Woody and his pals now are in the company of Bonnie, who is distraught when Forky gets separated from her. Let no toy left behind.
There are also the Dummies, a quartet of malevolent-looking ventriloquist dummies (silent since there’s no ventriloquist in sight), who act like Mafioso enforcers, and Gabby Gabby (voiced with sensual insouciance by Christina Hendricks), who at times evokes the horror film persona of a female Chucky from “Child’s Play” and Annabelle’s doll from “Annabelle.” Fortunately, there are few of these creepy scenes and Gabby Gabby is transformed by the love of a child.
Sheriff Woody is still the protagonist. As voiced by Tom Hanks, Sheriff Woody is one of the most memorable characters in animation feature movie history. Hanks has a way of delivering significant plot points and insights (the mantra, WWWD: What Would Woody Do?) in the most laconic manner imaginable.
Buzz Lightyear, with perhaps the second most recognizable voice in “Toy Story,” is voiced by Tim Allen in a more abrupt, gruffer manner, and serves as more of a sidekick.
Bo Peep, voiced by Annie Potts, figures more significantly in the “Toy Story 4” storyline. To reveal more would spoil your enjoyment of the movie.
The voice talent includes Keegan-Michael Key (Ducky), Jordan Peele (Bunny), Keanu Reeves (Duke Caboom), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Wallace Shawn (Rex) and the late Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), to whom the movie is dedicated.
In “Toy Story 4” and the previous movies in the series, the Toys are stand-ins for humans. Toys R Us.
“Toy Story 4” provides lots to analyze for a psychiatrist or psychologist. The recycling bin becomes an existential threat for Forky. Gabby Gabby wants Sheriff Woody’s voicebox. Buzz Lightyear listens to his inner voice by pressing the voice buttons on his spacesuit. Call it Toys R Freudian.
This shouldn’t dissuade parents or guardians from taking children. Be prepared, though, for lots of questions after, or every during, the movie.
“Toy Story 4” is directed by Josh Cooley (feature film directorial debut) from a screenplay by Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom based on an original story by John Lasseter, Valerie LaPointe, Rashida Jones, Will McCormack, Martin Hynes, Cooley, Stanton and Folsom.
Look for an Oscar animated film nomination, and several other nominations for “Toy Story 4,” which expands on and continues the beloved series.
“Toy Story 4” is the feel-good movie of the Summer of 2019. Don’t miss it.
“Toy Story 4,” MPAA Rated G (General Audiences All ages admitted. Nothing that would offend parents for viewing by children.); Genre: Animation, Comedy; Run Time: 1 hr., 40 min. Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Credit Readers Anonymous: “Toy Story 4” end credits includes “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy” by Randy Newman and sung by Chris Stapleton. There are several carnival arcade scenes. At the very end, Duke Caboom appears, in lieu of the Pixar lamp, and high-fives Combat Carls.
Box Office: June 28-30 weekend box office results were unavailable because of the early Focus deadline for the July 4 holiday.
Unreel, July 5:
“Spider-Man: Far from Home,” PG-13: Jon Watts directs: Zendaya, Angourie Rice, Tom Holland and Jon Favreau in the Science Fiction Action film. The story continues what was hinted at in “Avengers: Endgame.”
Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes