‘Toy Story 4” manages to continue the popular franchise after the seemingly final third installment, offering up conclusions to classic characters, intriguing commentary on what it means to be a toy and top-notch animation from Pixar.
Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang of toys go off on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy named Forky. The journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody finds himself running into his long-lost friend Bo Peep. As Woody and Bo look back on their past, they begin to realize their differences when it comes to what they want from life as a toy.
The latest installment gives audiences more of that classic, fuzzy-feeling, emotional humor and drama that have become synonymous with the franchise and provides an opportunity for audiences to reunite with characters who have been sorely missed.
With the return of Bo Peep, her character and Woody partake in curious dialogue on whether being a lost toy is better than having an owner. Bo Peep left the franchise after “Toy Story 2,” and in that time she has been living on her own, saving other toys and exploring the world. Woody finds himself conflicted after Andy left to go to college and feels like the well-being of Forky is his only mission.
Returning to the franchise, Annie Potts brings a level of spunk and attitude to the film voicing Bo Peep, with her rough and strong nature living out in the world as a free toy bringing a jolt of excitement to the film. Tom Hanks also feeds off that energy as Woody, giving audiences voice work that expresses moments of joy and bits of self-contemplation.
And the rest of the gang brings an ensemble of great voice work.Tim Allen’s Buzz has a funny gag throughout the film involving his “inner voice,” while Keanu Reeves plays a humorous Canadian stunt performer with some serious self-doubt. This year truly is the resurgence of Keanu Reeves.
The greatest voice work, however, comes from Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, who play a hilarious plushy doll duo from a carnival that provide the best laughs in the film.
With set pieces including a carnival and antique shop, the film is allowed to get out of a child’s bedroom and put these characters in more amusing situations. The antique store offers a nostalgic feel that meshes with modern-age toys running around.
Overall, while its ending might not be as much of a gut punch as the way the third installment wrapped things up, “Toy Story 4” brings sufficient conclusions to some of the franchise’s classic characters.