Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale
Director: Josh Cooley
Ok Pixar, I’m ready to be hurt again. After the soul-crushing reality that was Toy Story 3, I’m pretty much prepared for anything that Pixar can throw at me. I didn’t necessarily believe a fourth installment was warranted as the third movie perfectly wrapped up one of the greatest and most influential animated franchises ever. However, I trust Pixar with every project that doesn’t have the word Cars in it, so I assumed that they would be able to deliver another emotionally crippling film to our screens. To the surprise of nobody, Toy Story 4 shows that it doesn’t matter how much time passes as Pixar has another smash hit on their hands thanks to beautiful animation, strong voice acting, and another incredibly emotional story.
The film picks up after the events of the third movie, with the main characters living with their new owner Bonnie and having a great time playing with her. When Bonnie goes to kindergarten, she creates a new toy named Forky (voiced by Hale), a toy made out of a spork and some other disposable materials. This causes Forky to have an existential crisis and he tries to run away on multiple occasions and fulfill his destiny as a piece of trash. During one of his escape attempts, Woody (voiced by Hanks) comes across his old friend Bo Peep (voiced by Potts) who he knew from his time with their former owner Andy. Together, the three of them must return Forky back to Bonnie while avoiding the antagonistic toys that oppose them. Looking at how far this franchise has come in its 19 years of existence, it’s amazing to see the constant improvement that Pixar has made with its animation. Toy Story 4 is easily the best looking movie they’ve released with no semblance of the blocky textures that were present in the past. The landscapes are vibrant and detailed and the color palates change depending on which part of the world the toys are in. All of this is done seamlessly and transitions happen without any issue as we should expect from another fantastic Pixar movie. Outside of the animation, the voice acting does an amazing job of combining the returning cast with some fresh characters that stimulate the movie and make it more impressive. When you add naturally funny people like Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, and Keanu Reeves, the second coming of Christ himself, you’re setting yourself up for success. These three voice actors in particular serve as the comic relief that the film desperately needed to make up for some of the more emotionally taxing moments scattered throughout the plot. Speaking of emotionally taxing, Toy Story 4 doubles down on the vulnerable state the previous film left us in and once again shows us just how far they are willing to go to prove their point. Who knew that a franchise about toys who come to life would provide such a deep reflection about where we belong in life and what is important to us, but Toy Story 4 provides yet another unique perspective on the subject and should be able to get tears out of most audience members. For the sake of my emotional state I hope this is the final Toy Story movie released, and if it is, then this phenomenal franchise went out on a high note showing us talent can transcend time when given the opportunity to do so.
Overall, Toy Story 4 will easily stand out as one of the best animated movies of the year and gives Pixar a strong chance to take back the Best Animated Feature award from Sony. A delicate balance of sensitive, funny, and charming, Toy Story 4 delivers once again and stands as one of the best blockbusters released this summer.
Overall Score: 9/10