“Forky is the most important toy to Bonnie right now. We all have to make sure nothing happens to him,” says Woody (Tom Hanks) to his pal Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the toys in Bonnie’s room as they meet Forky (Tony Hale), the new toy Bonnie made during her first day of kindergarten in the new chapter of the animated film series, Toy Story 4.
After spending the day at orientation in kindergarten, Bonnie’s parents decide to take their adorable daughter on a road trip in an RV. Woody, Buzz, Forky and the rest of the gang happily go along, but Forky isn’t happy being a toy. He thinks he belongs in the trash, which is where all his parts came from.
One night Forky decides to take action. He leaves the RV and tries to put himself in a trash bin. The always-responsible Woody goes after him and, unfortunately, both Forky and Woody are left behind as the RV heads to the next stop.
Woody and Forky are forced to try and catch up with their friends by walking to the next stop. In a stroke of luck, on Woody’s unexpected detour he’s reunited with his friend Bo Peep (Annie Potts) who has become an adventurous lost toy who loves freedom and not being owned by a child. This is a big surprise to Woody who’s still determined to get Forky back to Bonnie while hoping not to be separated from Bo Peep again.
Cute, charming, but hardly original, Toy Story 4 is an enjoyable addition to the superb animated franchise but is not of the same caliber as its predecessors. The introduction and focus on the new character Forky while entertaining detours attention away from most of the other beloved characters. Rex, Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head, Jessie, Slinky Dog, and Hamm are basically sidelined and have barely any screen time. Even Buzz Lightyear, who has always been the second lead in the film franchise, is bumped back to third to make way for Forky. Actually, he’s relegated to fourth place because of the return of Bo Peep.
The reunion of Bo Peep and Woody is heartwarming but leads to more adventures with two new characters named Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele) whose personalities feel as though they belong in a completely different animated movie.
The best part of Toy Story 4 is hands-down the introduction and addition of Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), an Evel Knievel-type toy who teams up with Woody and Bo Peep to rescue Forky. Reeves’ hilarious take on a vain motorcycle stunt-jumping toy that lacks the belief in his own abilities because of an incident between him and his child owner is priceless. Duke Caboom is such an entertaining character he deserves his own spin-off film or at the very least a Saturday morning cartoon series.
The voice work from the cast is once again excellent and the animation is mesmerizing. Especially stunning is the opening sequence in a rain storm with Woody and the gang struggling to save a toy from being washed away.
Toy Story 4 is a enjoyable, funny, and entertaining animated film that falls short of being in the same emotional and creative league as the first three films.
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 90 minutes
Release Date: June 21, 2019
Directed By: Josh Cooley