- Josh Cooley
- Run Time
- 1 hour and 40 minutes
VP Content Ratings
- Sex & Nudity
- Star Rating
Some friends play at friendship but a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
The talented folks at Pixar have done it again gifting us with a warm-hearted film that every member of the family who liked the first 3 Toy Story films can delight in. The new quick-paced story again deals with courage, community, friendship and loyalty, as well as self-discovery and widening of horizons—even the beginning of a romance. Those who enjoy the road trip genre will be especially pleased when the film’s human family packs up their RV and journeys to a small town in the mountains where they will remain oblivious to all the frantic antics of the toys. As before, there will be lots of scenes when all the toys freeze their motions as a human enters their space, always inducing laughter among us viewers.
In the film prologue we see both the teamwork and the concern for each other when Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks) risks his life saving a fellow toy from being washed down a curb gutter during a rainstorm, aided by the other toys, especially the slinky dog holding onto Woody, its coiled wire torso stretched as far possible. The toys original owner Andy is now away at college, the toys having been bequeathed in a previous film to his little sister Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw).
Woody now is often passed over for another toy by the girl, but he takes his demotion from “favorite toy” gracefully, telling his friends that his owner’s happiness is what is important. Then Bonnie reluctantly goes off to her first day at kindergarten where she makes a new friend. I mean this literally, the little girl taking a plastic spoon/fork and broken pop cycle sticks from the trash, glues them together and twists a pipe cleaner for arms and attaches two unequal-sized button eyes to create Forky (Tony Hale).
This becomes Bonnies’ toy of preference, though the little fellow keeps trying to throw himself away in trash cans, insisting that he is not a toy but trash. Woody will spend a lot of time and effort rescuing him and trying to convince him that he is indeed Bonnie’s toy. Each time Forky is missed by Bonnie, the other toys find and bring him back so that the little girl can cling to him once more for emotional security.
The rescue efforts become more complicated when the family takes off on a vacation in their RV, and Forky disappears again. Fortunately, the gang of toys manages to sneak aboard the vehicle. The family winds up at a mountain village that features a colorful carnival across the street from a large antique store. New characters are introduced, including at the carnival Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), two plush toys pinned to the wall containing prizes for a toss game. When Woody is found by the manager and is joined to the other prizes, they quickly regard Woody as a rival, with some hilarious results. (So many enjoyable subplots in this film!)
Inside the antique store is the sinister Gabby-Gabby (Christina Hendricks) who has four even more sinister looking ventriloquist dolls at her back and call. When she sees Woody, she is determined to remove his voice box to replace her damaged one. Also new is a dare-devil motorcyclist once a popular toy in Canada, Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), who will figure importantly in rescuing Forky from the shop—providing he can get over his trauma of being rejected by a boy, disappointed because the toy did not perform as well as depicted in the TV commercial. Duke also will delight at least young viewers with his “I Canada do this,” while eliciting groans from their adults who are unappreciative of puns.
Returning from an earlier episode (No. 2) is Woody’s old friend Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and her three joined together sheep, all of them glad to see the Sheriff again. However, Bo Peep, having escaped from the antique story has been living free, and enjoying not belonging to a human. She is not at all eager to help Woody rescue his friend, her initial refusal reminding me of Han Solo’s. Like him, she is a clever, free spirit, very skillful in the use of her shepherd’s crook, and not wanting to be tied down.
Woody cannot understand how a toy does not want an owner, this being beyond anything he has experienced. Fortunately, his friend does agree to help, thus becoming in her leadership the dominant figure in the last third of the film. Mothers and their daughters should thrill at the ingenious ways she organizes the other toys in the rescue mission. As they work well together, each will find themselves changing their perspectives.
But of course, Bo Peep’s plan includes everyone, from Woody and Buzz to newcomers Ducky and Bunny to the fearful Duke Caboom, though at first the Canadian thinks he “Canada not do it,” that is ride his motorcycle across the space between two cabinet tops. During all this Forky, the objective of the rescue becomes aware that he must not be “trash” if the others are so intent on risking their lives to return him to Bonnie.
Parents might want to hold the hand of their preschool children during some of the scenes in the antique store—those four ventriloquist dolls with the big eyes and menacing smirks are scary enough to have come out of a horror flick, though I suspect most youngsters have taken in stride equally scary characters while watching TV and able at home.
From the great animation and voice talent through the music (mostly written by Randy Newman) and scenery (having accompanied my wife to hundreds of antique shops I loved this one, drawn so lovingly in such detail), director Josh Cooley and his hundreds of Pixar-Disney colleagues have blessed us with another memorable visual parable filled with humor, beauty, and life lessons.
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