It’s hard to believe that the first Toy Story film came out way back in 1995, this franchise is the same age as me and therefore I grew up with Woody, Buzz and the gang. With the release of Toy Story 3 in 2010, we were told that it would be the last we saw of these famous toys, but last year they were back with a new adventure and some new friends in Toy Story 4. This film brings the old favourites back to the big screen, with a message of friendship, responsibility and finding your place in the world, plus a piece of cutlery turned toy having an existential crisis.
When the trailers for Toy Story 4 were first released, the actual plot line didn’t appear to make much sense, for it all seemed to revolve around a plastic spork that is turned into a toy by Bonnie and the once inanimate object suddenly coming to life. It was all rather odd at first but once put into context with the full story line of Woody’s determination to help Bonnie and the whole idea of lost and found toys, it sort of works. Yes, it’s still very odd and strange, but hasn’t the idea of toys coming to life when no one is looking and going on huge adventures always been a little bit weird? That’s just Toy Story.
The first thing that you really notice about this film is how it looks. Pixar’s animation has developed a lot since the first Toy Story, and now even the finest of details are clear. We can see every thread in Woody’s outfit, every hair of a cat and even reflections in the toy’s paintwork. The attention to detail is beautiful and from start to end, this film injects bursts of colour and motion into the story.
Just has Toy Story 2 had the toy collector and Toy Story 3 had Lotso the bear, the newest installment introduces a new villain in the form of Gabby Gabby, a porcelain doll stuck in a creepy antiques store with a desire to obtain a voice box in order to get the attention of a child who visits the shop. She’s creepy enough before you even mention her constantly silent ventriloquist dummy henchman. This may be a children’s movie but it isn’t without it’s dark moments.
The true drive of the plot line of Toy Story 4 is Woody’s desire to help Bonnie. Even though Forky, the spork turned toy, struggles to understand that he is now a toy and incredibly important to Bonnie, Woody is determined to keep him safe and when the spork becomes lost, is willing to do anything to get him back to Bonnie, even if that means facing the creepy toys and risking becoming lost himself. With the help of the well known gang of toys including Buzz, Jessie and Rex, along with the returning little bo beep (now in full girl power mode) and new characters such as Duke Kaboom, Woody does everything that he can to save Forky.
Toy Story 3 introduced the idea of giving up toys that someone has outgrown in order to bring pleasure to new children and this film takes that idea even further by introducing the premise of lost toys and saying goodbye as a whole. Having been given up by Andy and come into the care of Bonnie, Woody is beginning to realise that perhaps he isn’t as needed as he used to be and instead focuses all of his attention on Forky. Deep down all he wants to do is make children happy, and deep down that is even the desire of villain Gabby Gabby. She wants to be loved by a child, just as Woody does. It could be suggested that this film touches on the idea of it’s better to have loved and lost, then to have never loved at all in a why that young child can understand. Woody and Gabby’s stories suggest that it is better to have been loved by a child and lost that child’s love then to have never had that love in the first place. This film wraps touching and important lessons in funny and colourful characters, something that more and more animated children’s movies are starting to do lately and perhaps something that needs to be done more often.