The Reel Review
This fourth (and likely final) installment in the popular Toy Story franchise is about what toys do with themselves when their child loses interest in them – a fitting, albeit somewhat darker storyline, given the aging viewer demographic of the 24-year-old franchise. When Bonnie ignores Woody (Tom Hanks) for Forky (Tony Hale), a new, googley-eyed toy she’s hobbled together out of a plastic spork and pipe cleaner, Woody questions his self worth. When the hilariously self-doubting, trash can-obsessed Forky disappears, a new adventure begins.
The film smartly injects the franchise with some fresh characters – first and foremost, the return of Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who, thrown out years before, has embraced a new life of independence. Who knew?! Bo is a free-spirited badass. New characters cranking out the feels are the heartbreaking Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), a hysterical Bunny and Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) and Canadian motorcycle daredevil Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves).
Charming animation and some surprisingly clever twists culminates in a sweet, sentimental trip down memory lane that, while a bit shy of the emotional tsunami of Toy Story 3, will still put plenty of lumps in the throats of its enormous fanbase. Definitely stay through the end credits – you’ll be glad you did.
• Both Tom Hanks and Tim Allen have said they were overcome with emotion and had a hard time getting through their lines in the film’s final scenes.
• Betty White, Carol Burnett, Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner have cameos in the scene where discarded toys console one another (and Woody) in the closet. Additionally, Pixar used prior recordings of the late Don Rickles (who died in 2017 at age 90) for Mr. Potato Head.
• Only seven cast members have appeared in all four Toy Story films: Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Wallace Shawn (Rex), John Ratzenberger (Hamm), Debi Derryberry and Jeff Pidgeon (Little Green Men/Squeeze Toy Aliens) and Frank Walker (various animal vocals)