Bonnie's First School Art Project: Toy Story 4
Like a typical child, Bonnie loves the time she spends with her toys. However, she has apprehension about attending kindergarten in Toy Story 4. While Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) still plays with the toys that Andy (John Morris) gave her, Woody (Tom Hanks) spends more time in Bonnie's closet than with the girl. Knowing her feelings about her orientation day, Woody sneaks into her backpack. The teacher has her students do an art project. While she doesn't do exactly what's asked of the students, she does make a toy she names Forky (Tony Hale) from art supplies a classmate threw in the garbage. The confused spork-turned toy is confused, thinking he is trash and trying to find his way to the nearest disposal. Woody has has hands full with getting through to Forky, but keeps trying because Woody knows Bonnie loves what she has created. Forky learns that Woody will not give up on him.
After orientation, Bonnie and her parents go on a short trip to a local fair before school starts full time. Bonnie brings her toys with her, but Forky throws himself from the window of the family RV. Woody gives chase and quickly finds Forky. As they make their way back to the RV, Forky finally begins to realize he is not considered disposable. They pass by an antiques store, where Woody sees a lamp that once belonged to Andy's little sister. The lamp, Woody notices, is missing someone familiar, so he and Forky enter the store to see if Bo Peep (Annie Potts) is nearby. They learn she left, but Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), a doll whose voice has never worked properly, takes Forky hostage with the help of four ventriloquist puppets. Woody escapes and tries to get help from Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the other toys. Buzz, however, winds up, as a carnival prize, only to be rescued by stuffed toys Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele). Woody finds Bo living with her sheep and another toy, and they agree to help. She takes Woody to Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), who helps them with an escape plan. Gabby Gabby, though, proves formidable, but she offers Woody a deal in exchange for releasing Forky.
The first three Toy Story movies are a part of one of the best trilogies I have seen. Every one of the entries has taken a humorous and endearing look at toys and the children who spend time with them. Toy Story 4 adds a new twist with Forky, the first handmade toy in the menagerie that Woody has known. The bond that Bonnie has with Forky is instantaneous for the little girl. As a decorated plastic utensil, Forky has a different mindset. Woody bore witness to his creation, and works to make Forky understand that he's now more than just an eating device. All the while, Woody faces the reality that he has fallen out of favor with Bonnie, as Dolly (Bonnie Hunt) now rules over Bonnie's room. Andrew Stanton, once again, has a hand in the screenplay, as he has in all four installments. Toy Story 4 marks the feature directing debut of Josh Cooley, a Pixar veteran whose previous biggest previous credit was his contribution to the screenplay of Inside Out. The one small problem I had with the end result here is that Margaret (June Squibb), the antiques store owner, states that she doesn't have call for the toys in her shop, yet they are there, I suppose, if her granddaughter might want one of them.
Even as Bonnie's toy collection grows, the voice actors still deliver with enthusiasm. Hanks, as Woody, professes loyalty to his child, despite her change in preferences. That gives him the chance to mentor Forky. Allen is still funny as Buzz, always meaning to do well by Woody and Bonnie. It's funny to watch Buzz hit the buttons to activate his "inner voice" for guidance. Hale is hilarious as the confused Forky as he tries to learn that he is special in the eyes of his creator. Potts shows she's no meek shepherd as Bo, who lives a life beyond almost any expectation of toy or child. Reeves is fun as a Canadian toy equivalent of Evel Knievel, who vows to never do the same stunt twice. Hendricks is fine as Gabby Gabby, a toy who wants a chance with a child, in spite of her treatment of the other toys. Key and Peele are enjoyable as toys who consistently outsmart their carny barker. The rest of returning cast has returned in small parts, including John Ratzenberger as Hamm and Don Rickles in his final film credit as Mr. Potato Head. Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, and Betty White make cameos as toys who share a perpetual spot in Bonnie's closet with Woody.
The Toy Story series has lasted longer than most toys do, but the films still find new angles to explore in the world of play things. The ending of Toy Story 4 even sets the stage for a potential Toy Story 5. These toys not only fuel the imagination of the child who has them, but they also live adventures that a child never gets to see. Woody knows it's not in Forky's nature to exist as a toy, but he never gives up on teaching his new friend that Bonnie has changed what he was meant to be. Forky is not from a store shelf, but from a place most like him will never know. Despite initial feelings to the contrary, he learns he can go against his nature and have an existence that lasts beyond one meal.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Toy Story 4 3.5 stars. Bonnie makes a new friend.
Toy Story 4 trailer
© 2019 Pat Mills