Film review: Toy Story 4
- Credit: Archant
Woody and Buzz’s fourth outing offers much of the same laughs as the previous films, but it’s done with heart and dignity.
The Toy Stories have always been odes to duteous and unrecognised servitude.
The toys put everything into pleasing their masters only for the kids to one day casually cast them aside without a second thought. There's a brutal honesty to that which is in stark contrast to the past Hollywood narrative about career-obsessed workaholics executives learning how to reorder their priorities and reconnect with their children and families.
It's a little ironic though as it's now clear that they are going to be worked into the ground.
Nine summers after Toy Story 3 gave them a rousing and emotionally satisfying send-off, the full gold watch: Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang are being drummed back into action. As the prospects of a nice retirement begin to disappear over the horizon for most ordinary people, even the superstar toy box (some of whom - Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Don Rickles, Betty White - are nearing 100) aren't being allowed to sit back and put their feet up.
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But, unlike Pixar's other sequels, they still have much to give. Toy Story 4 sends them off on a road trip (a classic sequel ruse) as well as helping their new child, Bonnie, navigate her first days of Kindergarten.
It's getting much the same laughs and jerking much the same tears as the previous films but it is done with heart and dignity. Arguably some of the old faces don't get enough to do, squeezed out to make way for some new faces, but these new elements - particularly sinister doll Gaby (Hendricks) and two hilarious fluffy toys (Peele, Michael-Key) - are very strong. The heart of it though remains Tom Hanks' voicing of Woody: he has the rare gift for portraying decency on the big screen in a way that makes it seem... well, decent.
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The only real disappointment is that this is a Pixar film that doesn't seem to come with a preceding a short film. In recent years these have normally been the highlight.