Nine years after giving us a perfect ending to the Toy Story trilogy, the creators at Pixar have decided the story is not over. Toy Story 3 did not end with the cliche, And they lived happily ever after, though we could have believed that. Instead, in Toy Story 4, we see that while Bonnie promised Andy she would take good care of Woody, he often is not picked for playtime. She simply plucks his sheriff badge off his chest and gives it to Jessie, leaving Woody feeling rejected with the old toys in the closet.
With little playtime and no longer the leader (that’s Dolly’s role in Bonnie’s room) Woody is struggling with his purpose. Then he has a hand in Bonnie creating Forky, a spork figurine, so Woody feels responsible for him. Especially when Forky keeps throwing himself in the trash. When Forky gets lost, Woody takes it upon himself to find him and ends up meeting new adversaries and old friends in an antique shop and a traveling carnival.
From the promos, we all know Woody finds his old flame, Bo Peep, and I love how her story has turned. The beginning of the film, shows us how she left Andy’s house on a sad rainy night. We find out that years later she decided that instead of wasting away in the antique shop for someone to take her home, she became a lost toy, traveling around the park and sandbox in an RC car disguised as a skunk. She’s come a long way from her bonnet wearing days playing the damsel in distress in Andy’s room.
While there’s a lot to think about in this film, one of the best things about it is how comical it is. Forky flinging himself into the trash never gets old. Buzz’s way of discovering his inner voice is perfect for his character. Duke Kaboom’s backstory and posing is hilarious. Ducky and Bunny (voiced by Key and Peele) are wonderful new characters that add some seriously silly moments (especially in the credits). And my favorite laughs came from how the toys left in the RV keep stalling for time and eventually try to navigate the car, without Bonnie’s parents figuring them out.
To be really honest, I thought there was too much Forky and not enough of our old favorite characters. I mean what’s going on with Buzz and Jessie these days? There was so much with them in 3. But this isn’t their story, it’s Woody’s journey, and Forky is a big part of helping Woody get there. I get it, sorry, but I felt like we were left hanging, like that Combat Carl looking for a high five.
There’s a lot of meandering around with Forky to get to the heart of the matter in this story. It’s all about dealing with rejection and finding purpose in your life, even if it’s not quite how you imagined it. Forky wasn’t on board to be a toy at first, but with Woody’s help comes around to the idea. Accepting new roles will come for other key characters as well. And while the ending is not quite the amazing tear jerker 3 gave us, it’s still wonderfully bittersweet.
“I can’t let you throw yourself away.”