Home / Industry / Media /  Film review: 'Toy Story 4' is a joyous extension of the series

What’s not to love when you have one more chance to enter the world of talking stoys, with the righteous Sheriff Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) and his bestie Buzz Lightyear (voice of Tim Allen) standing firmly by his side. The latest edition opens nine years after the events of Toy Story 3. In the elapsed time Andy, the former owner, has grown up and passed on his toys to wee Bonnie. Bonnie is about to start kindergarten, and as she is showing signs of growing up, Woody becomes painfully aware that she might be outgrowing him.

After her first day in school, Bonnie returns home with her new favourite toy, a recycled spork, who she names Forky (voice of Tony Hale). Woody, who is struggling to come to terms with his own redundancy, makes it his mission to “safeguard the utensil".

Deeply committed to the purpose of toys – to bring unconditional joy to their kids, even if that means being replaced by a toy made out of trash – Woody single-mindedly focuses on ensuring Forky remains by Bonnie’s side. This takes them and the other toys on an adventure that unspools during a family road trip. As Forky spends more and more time with Woody and the other toys, he begins to understand that he is no longer trash, but a loved toy.

The road trip with Bonnie and her parents brings them to a travelling carnival that becomes the setting for drama, reunions, the appearance of new characters and an emotional end. Here, the creators of this hugely popular animated franchise introduce a darker element – the creepy talking toys that remind you of Chucky from the slasher film Child’s Play. These walking, talking dolls in dinner jackets serve a self-centred doll named Gabby Gabby (voice of Christina Hendricks). Woody and Forky also encounter a host of new toys such as Duke Caboom (voice of Keanu Reeves), Ducky (voice of Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (voice of Jordan Peele). There are also appearances by old favourites such as Bo Peep (voice of Annie Potts), Jessie (Joan Cusack) and Rex (Wallace Shawn).

Toy Story has been winning and warming hearts since 1995. Debutant director Josh Cooley takes charge of this fourth instalment, which boasts exemplary digital artistry. The film is packed with mixed emotions and some silly moments, but it leaves you with an overall feeling of joy and a wish to revisit your favourite childhood toys.

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