Tuesday, July 02, 2019
Toy Story 4
Directed by Josh Cooley and screenplay by Stephany Folsom and Andrew Stanton from a story by Cooley, Folsom, Stanton, John Lasseter, Rashida Jones, Will McCormack, Valerie LaPointe, and Martin Hynes, Toy Story 4 is the fourth film of the Toy Story film series in which Woody, Buzz, and the old gang adjust to life under their new owner Bonnie who created a new toy out of a plastic spork she named Forky who deals with his being created and being a toy. The film is an unusual road movie of sorts that has Woody trying to help Forky with his new role in which the film deals with existentialism as well as the other lives of toys including Bo Peep who has lived a new life in the world of carnivals. Featuring the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Bonnie Hunt, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Blake Clark, John Ratzenberger, Wallace Shawn, Timothy Dalton, Kristen Schaal, Jeff Carlin, Estelle Harris, and Don Rickles in a posthumous voice appearance as Mr. Potato Head. Toy Story 4 is a majestic and heartwarming film from Josh Cooley and Pixar.
The film is about a group of toys trying to help a newly-created toy made out of a plastic spork named Forky (Tony Hale) adjust to his new role though he considers himself to be trash only for Woody (Tom Hanks) to try and show him the importance of his role to their owner Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw). It’s a film that explores the idea of being a toy where Woody is aware that he’s being phased out unintentionally as he knows that Bonnie is having a hard time adjusting to growing up and going to kindergarten. The film’s screenplay by Stephany Folsom and Andrew Stanton explores not just Woody’s anxiety to make sure that Bonnie will be fine through this toy she made in Forky but also to see a world where toys can do so much more. Notably as Woody and the gang go on a road trip with Bonnie and her parents (Jay Hernandez and Lori Alan) where Woody notices Forky’s attempt to kill himself as he still thinks he’s trash. When Forky does escape from the RV and Woody tries to save him, they walk down to the nearest town where Woody discovers an old lamp at an antique store that his previous owner’s sister used to have.
It is in this town he reunites with Bo Peep (Annie Potts) whom he hadn’t seen in nine years after being given away to a new owner along with her three sheep as she has made a comfortable life traveling with a carnival of toys including the Canadian stunt toy Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), a couple of plush toys in Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele), and a pocket toy cop named Giggle McDimples (Ally Maki) who would help Woody retrieve Forky with Buzz joining to find Woody at the carnival as Forky meets a doll named Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) who seems like an evil toy but is really an anti-hero as someone who never had a proper voice box nor was ever really played with. Caboom is a toy that believed to have failed his previous owner due to his inability to perform the stunts the commercial claimed the toy could do. It all play into this idea of existence which is quite bold for a film whose target audience is mainly children yet knows how to approach it without being too heavy-handed or complicated.
Josh Cooley’s direction opens with a flashback scene set nine years before the events of the main narrative is when Bo Peep and her sheep along with its lamp is being taken away where Woody has a conversation with Bo before her departure after saving R.C. from being swept down a drain storm. It then shifts into the journey that Woody, Buzz, Jessie (Joan Cusack), Mr. Potato Head, Mrs. Potato Head (Estelle Harris), Slinky the Dog (Blake Clark), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), the Pizza Planet aliens (Jeff Pidgeon), and Rex (Wallace Shawn) had taken as they would become part of a new family with Dolly (Bonnie Hunt), Trixie (Kristen Schaal), Mr. Pricklepants (Timothy Dalton), and Buttercup (Jeff Garlin) with Bonnie as their owner. With the aid of animation director Aaron J. Hartline, Cooley does broaden the scale more as it relates to the world that Woody and the gang embark on in this road trip while they’re keeping watch on Forky who is convinced he is trash where Cooley’s direction would maintain some intimate compositions in the close-ups and medium shots for conversations between Woody and Forky.
Cooley’s usage of the wide shots play into the scope of the world that Woody and the gang go to which is a traveling carnival along with a nearby antique store where Gabby Gabby and her army of ventriloquist dummies in the Bensons live in. With the aid of cinematographers Patrick Lin and Jean-Claude Kalache, Cooley would maintain a visual atmosphere inside the store including a few places that Bo knows where to go and hide while the exteriors of the carnival at night are among some of the great visual elements of the film. It add to the drama that Woody has to endure upon in his attempt to retrieve Forky where he also has to come to terms with the fact about all toys when they’re being phased out where Bo offers him a world that proves to be just as lively. Even as he would get Forky to understand his role and Buzz to take on a bigger role for Bonnie as it all play into the importance of toys in a child’s development but also what toys can do without their owners and help other toys. Overall, Cooley crafts a touching yet intoxicating film about toys dealing with their roles while helping a hand-crafted toy understand about his identity.
Editor Axel Gedde does excellent work with the editing as it play into some of the humor and drama with its usage of rhythmic cuts as well as a montage of Forky trying to destroy himself. Production designer Bob Pauley and art director Laura Phillips do amazing work with the look of the interior of the antique store as well as the design of the carnival and its rides as it add to the visual splendor of the film. Sound designer Ren Klyce and co-supervising sound editor Coya Elliott do fantastic work with the sound in some of the sound effects that are created as well as the layers of sound in the carnival scenes along with the broken voice box of Gabby Gabby. The film’s music by Randy Newman is brilliant for its mixture of lush orchestral music with a French-inspired theme for Caboom in his flashback and bits of country including a few original songs by Newman where one of them is performed by Chris Stapleton.
The casting by Natalie Lyon and Kevin Reher is incredible as it feature voice appearances from Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea as a Duke Caboom commercial announcer, Bill Hader as a carny named Axel, Alan Oppenheimer as a clock known as Old Timer, Mel Brooks as dusty old elephant in Melephant Brooks, Patricia Arquette as the mother of a young girl named Harmony, Carl Reiner as a dusty rhino in Carl Reineroceros, Carol Burnett as a dusty chair named Chairol Burnett, Betty White as a toy named Bitey White, Lila Sage Bromley as a young girl named Harmony, Melissa Villasenor as Bonnie’s kindergarten teacher Karen Beverly, Ricky Henderson as a bobblehead figure of himself, John Morris and Jack McGraw in their respective roles as the older and younger version of Andy, and Laurie Metcalf as Andy’s mom in the flashback scene.
Other noteworthy appearances in voice roles include Jay Hernandez and Lori Alan as Bonnie’s parents, Carl Weathers as miniature versions of the toy Combat Carl, June Squibb as the antiques owner, Emily Davis as the trio of Bo Peep’s sheep, and Steve Purcell as the ventriloquist dummies in the Benson Dummies. Reprising their roles from previous entries, the voice performances of Jeff Garlin as the unicorn Buttercup, Bonnie Hunt as the doll Dolly, Kristen Schaal as the triceratops Trixie, Timothy Dalton as the hedgehog Mr. Pricklepants, Wallace Shawn as the T-rex Rex, Blake Clark as the slinky toy-dog Slinky, John Ratzenberger as the piggy bank Hamm, Joan Cusack as cow-girl Jessie with her horse Bulls-eye, Estelle Harris, as Mrs. Potato Head, and Don Rickles via archival material as Mr. Potato Head as they’re all fantastic with Cusack as the standout as Jessie rallying the toys with Rickles being one of two individuals that includes animator Adam Burke whom the film is dedicated to.
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are excellent in their respective roles as the stuffed plush toys Ducky and Bunny as they both provide some great comic relief as two toys who have never been played with as they cause a lot of mayhem. Christina Hendricks is brilliant as the doll Gabby Gabby as a toy who had never been played with due to a faulty talk box as she is eager to have Woody’s talk box in the hope of being played with. Keanu Reeves is incredible as Duke Caboom as a Canadian daredevil toy that is known for his poses but is also filled with doubt as it relates to his inability to live up to expectations for his old owner. Madeleine McGraw is wonderful as Bonnie as a young girl who is dealing with growing pains as she becomes attached to her creation in Forky while becoming worried about his whereabouts. Ally Maki is amazing as the tiny pocket toy Giggle McDimples as a toy who is known for her giggles yet is also Bo Peep’s side kick of sorts as she is funny as well as being cool.
Tony Hale is marvelous as Forky as a spork turned into a toy by Bonnie as he copes with his anxieties and being about being a toy as all he’s known for is trash where he later understands the role of being a toy and his importance in Bonnie’s development as a person. Annie Potts is remarkable as Bo Peep as an old toy of Andy’s who has lived a new life traveling in the world of carnivals where she has found a new purpose to help out toys but also see the world. Tim Allen is sensational as Buzz Lightyear as the space toy who is Woody’s best friend as he deals with his own identity as someone that needs to be a leader and help Bonnie out in her development as he also copes his own identity as a toy. Finally, there’s Tom Hanks in a phenomenal performance as Woody as this cowboy toy who starts to realize that he is being phased out as he tries to help out Forky with his identity as he also tries to maintain his importance only to realize that there is so much out there as it is a great performance from Hanks.
Toy Story 4 is a tremendous film from Josh Cooley and Pixar. Featuring a great cast, gorgeous visuals, a sumptuous music score, and touching themes on existentialism and growing up. It’s a film that definitely does a lot to explore how much toys mean to children as well as the idea of being a toy in a touching and somber way. In the end, Toy Story 4 is a spectacular film from Josh Cooley and Pixar.
Pixar Films: Toy Story - A Bug's Life - Toy Story 2 - (Monsters Inc.) – (Finding Nemo) – The Incredibles - Cars - Ratatouille - WALL-E - Up - Toy Story 3 - Cars 2 - Brave - Monsters University - Inside Out - The Good Dinosaur - (Finding Dory) – (Cars 3) – Coco - The Incredibles 2 - (Onward) – Soul (2020 film) - (Luca (2021 film)) - Turning Red - (Lightyear) - (Elemental (2023 film)) - (Elio (2024 film)) - (Inside Out 2) - (Toy Story 5)
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