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Review: Toy Story 4 – “Full of heart, humour and adventure”

It has been nine years since the last Toy Story movie and, when I first heard they were making a fourth film, I was worried that it would spoil the magic and wonder of the original trilogy. Having been to see the film in IMAX I can safely say that they have managed to do it again – Toy Story 4 is full of laughter, warmth, surprises, and emotion. I was laughing one moment and wiping a tear away the next. All in keeping with my reactions to the previous films.

Josh Cooley, in his feature directorial debut, directs the film from a screenplay by Andrew Stanton (who co-wrote the first three films) and Stephany Folsom. They all came up with the story alongside John Lasseter, Rashida Jones, Will McCormack, Valerie LaPointe, and Martin Hynes.

The new film features the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Madeleine McGraw and Joan Cusack.

The original toys are now owned by Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw), but Woody (Tom Hanks) is often left in the cupboard when it is time to play. This means Woody is not sure of his purpose anymore. This changes when Bonnie make Forky (Tony Hale) in school. Made from a plastic spork, plasticine, a pipe cleaner, a broken lolly stick and some googly eyes, Forky comes to life and is horrified at his existence. He feels he is just trash and wants to stay in the bin. Woody realises how much Forky means to Bonnie and so he does everything he can to ensure Forky stays with her.

This leads to many humourous moments with Woody constantly on the lookout for Forky’s escape attempts. These escalate once Bonnie and her family go on a road trip.

We end up in an antique store as Woody tries to find his old friend, Bo Peep (Annie Potts). Turns out she has embraced the notion of being a lost toy and is a cool, self-assured character who no longer needs to be with a child. However, within the antique store is a doll called Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) who, along with her army of ventriloquists dummies, wants to us Woody to make a child love her. This leads to some creepy moments within the store and yet another reference to The Shining with “Midnight, the Stars and You” by Ray Noble & his Orchestra playing on an old gramophone.

What follows is a rip-roaring adventure of danger and derring-do as the old toys do everything they can to help Woody and Forky. Along the way, they meet Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele), and more.

As you would expect, the voice cast does not disappoint. Some of the older characters don’t get as much screentime, but with these many characters that is to be expected. Reeves as the Stuntman Duke Caboom is fantastic, riffing on his John Wick type persona, but with space for a bit of Ted “Theodore” Logan thrown in for good measure. Ducky and Bunny add some of the funniest moments, especially when we see their various plans against the humans they encounter. However, it is Annie Potts as Bo Peep who does amazing things. She is a fantastic character and Potts brings her to life with confidence, charm and a healthy dose of sarcasm.

The new film also looks incredible. When you go back and watch the original Toy Story it is still a brilliant movie, but the graphics are looking dated. In the new film, everything looks stunning. The dust and spider webs in the antique, the rain and lights in the carnival and just all the amazing little touches that have gone into making it a living breathing world. I also got to see the film in IMAX which meant all the incredible detail just popped on the big screen. Definitely a film to see in that format.

There were a few moments when it got emotional in the film, but it was the ending that brought tears to my eye. It was a great way to bring the film to a close and it would work well as a fitting end to the Toy Story world. However, should there be more they now have a couple of ways to move forward. I for one would love to see more of the adventures of the not-so-lost toys.

Toy Story 4 is an excellent continuation of the story. It is full of heart, humour and adventure and well worth seeing on the big screen.

Toy Story 4 is in cinemas now.

You can also read Alan’s review of the film here.

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