A 4th entry in the venerable Toy Story franchise seemed – at the time of its announcement – completely unnecessary, considering how beautiful a bow the third film put on the tale of Andy’s playthings.
Yet somehow, Toy Story 4 manages to be perhaps the funniest entry in the series even if it’s not the most emotionally engaging.
To that last point, the story – while cute – never quite connected for me at the base emotional level of the first three movies, two of which reduced me to tears at various points. Its message feels a bit esoteric and muddled. More about that on the next podcast.
There are several great additions to the cast. Tony Hale’s Forky may represent the franchise’s most inspired bit of casting since Wallace Shawn as Rex. The character is brilliant in large part because Hale makes him so. Ditto Duke Caboom, who benefits hugely from Keanu Reeves’s melodramatically deadpan delivery. And no, that description won’t make sense unless you’ve seen the film.
Key and Peele are predictably funny as Ducky and Bunny, but for me the film’s standout is a returning favourite, Bo Peep. Conspicuously absent from 3, Annie Potts’s Bo in 4 is a total badass deserving of a standalone film.
Gorgeous animation, fun setpieces and hilarious gags all make Toy Story 4 a truly worthy sequel despite its reduced emotional resonance.