After 2010’s Toy Story 3 heart-breaking conclusion (where a grown Andy drives away to college, leaving his beloved toys to little Bonnie), everyone thought that was the end of the franchise. BUT! In a world where sequels are everywhere and money is king, Disney/Pixar just couldn’t leave well enough alone.
Ever wonder why porcelain lamp, Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts), disappeared in the past Toy Story movies? Well, this movie explains it all in a brief prologue, but the REAL story is all about little Bonnie (Madeline McGraw) who, on her first day of kindergarten, “makes” a friend named Forky (Tony Hale) out of a spork, pipe cleaners, and other assorted trash. Apparently given life (which raises SO many questions), Forky is now Bonnie’s newest bestest friend, usurping Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and all the other toys.
But newborn Forky (again, many questions) doesn’t understand the fundamentals of being a toy, something Woody has personally taken upon himself to train the spork. Troubles arise while Bonnie and her parents are on vacation at a local carnival, and Woody & Forky find themselves inside an antiques store. Why? Could it be that Bo Peep is inside this shop? Nope! Just a creepy doll named Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her four equally disturbing ventriloquist dummy minions (resembling Slappy from Goosebumps). Looks like Gabby wants Woody’s precious mechanical voice-box to speak again and will stop at nothing to get it, even holding Forky as hostage!
What to do? Why, it’s feral Bo Peep to the rescue! All tricked-out, ready for action, and still having the hots for a certain sheriff, she comes in and saves the day. Meanwhile Buzz, off on his own to find Woody, meets up with co-joined plush buddies, Ducky & Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele), who are easily the film’s funniest comedic duo. While Bonnie is going crazy looking for Forky, all hell is breaking loose inside the antiques store as Bo Peep, Woody, Buzz, Ducky & Bunny, and a nutty Canadian motorcycle action figure called Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) are all trying to rescue that dang spork without being seen, killed, or captured!
Newbie screenwriter Stephany Folsom and Andrew Stanton (Wall-E, Finding Nemo)–and EIGHT storytellers–have basically reworked plot elements from Toy Story & Toy Story 3 into what is a swan-song for the toy gang. . .again. No doubt about it, after 24 years, these characters have endeared themselves to us all and Pixar has made these CGI animated toys more emotional and real than most humans. The story, all about Woody and his obsessive determination to make sure that a little girl is not disappointed, harkens back to the other films where he was always looking out for everyone else. It does get ridiculous with the constant lapses of plot holes, outrageous leaps in physics and logic, but it’s a fantasy and the kids don’t care, right?
Okay, so maybe I’m nitpicking. A bunch of toys running around in broad daylight and nobody is seeing them? Piffle! The action is fast-paced and full of some of the most incredible photo-realistic CG ever. Yes, it’s missing alot of the constant humor from the other films, although there were some scenes that made me LOL. Gabby Gabby is a good antagonist, but doesn’t hold a candle to Lotso Bear from Toy Story 3, although those dummies? Damn creepy! I’m still trying to figure out Forky’s place in the universe and how a child can ‘create life’ just like that!
This is Josh Cooley’s directorial debut, having been an ensemble voice on other Pixar TV shorts. He shows a genuine flair and depth to his direction, especially during the harrowing rescue scenes, the opening ‘time lapse’, and the hilarious Ducky & Bunny “key stealing” scenes. That shows not only his creativity, but thinking outside the box. Points! This final film (???) was just lacking the emotional 1-2 punch that the other movies had in spades; all the twists and turns were telegraphed early, undercutting the powerful and touching moments we all want and expect. Still, it’s a nice send-off… again… for the gang and I hope to God this is it for the Toy Story franchise.
Toy Story (1995)