Toy Story 4

Aida Vucic | 26/06/2019

Toy Story 4 goes unexpectedly deep; exploring the existential crisis of finding ones purpose whilst simultaneously being hilarious. We’d call that a successful family movie.


We thought that we’d seen the last of Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the gang but we were wrong. The fourth instalment picks up from the last, with the team having been gifted by Andy to a young girl by the name of Bonnie. Life in Bonnie’s toybox is great, but Woody is struggling to accept his new role and is frequently sidelined from playtime. In an attempt to win Bonnie’s heart, Woody tags along to her orientation day where Bonnie makes a new friend, Forky (Tony Hale). Woody is determined to ensure that her new friend plays by the rules.


Thus ensues a series of unfortunate events, including an encounter with Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves as a Canadian stunt motorcyclist), a gang of ventriloquist dummies, an old school doll and the return of Bo Peep. The addition of these characters means that for the most part we see very little of the gang, including Buzz, who’s once strong bond with Woody seems to have evaporated. His presence is instead treated more as a source of comedy. Similarly, Jessie is sidelined.


The introduction of Jessie in the second instalment offered the franchise the opportunity to deliver a strong female presence in the narrative. Disney have furthered this representation with the retrofitting reintroduction of Bo Peep as a resourceful toy, who’s managed to survive without a kid. She’s strong and witty; something the franchise had been somewhat missing in its female characters, and which would may not have been noticed had the story continued to focus on Woody and Buzz.

That being said, there is something inherently not as emotional in this sequel. Undoubtedly, it is an incredible animated journey; but it doesn’t hit the same peaks as the first three in the series. In some respects that could be because of the separation of Buzz and Woody, who as a pair have earned our understanding and compassion over three films. Or potentially it is down to a crowded field of new characters that take away from what we’ve loved in the past. Or maybe Toy Story 4 never had a chance, because the last three were so bloody amazing.


Toy Story 4 doesn’t touch the original trilogy, but is still one of the best animated movies ever made.