Given Pixar Animation Studios’ recent form with subpar sequels, you’d be forgiven for dismissing Toy Story 4 as a cynical cash-grab. After all, it’s been almost a decade since Toy Story 3 brought the saga of young Andy and his sentient toys to a satisfying conclusion. Indeed, this new instalment gets off to a shaky start, with our plastic protagonists pondering the same existential question they grappled with last time: What purpose does a toy serve once it’s been cast aside by its owner? But things take a compellingly strange turn when pre-schooler Bonnie, who inherited Andy’s toy collection in the previous film, fashions a new companion out of a plastic spork and other household junk. Said creation, named Forky, is terrified by the notion of being a child’s plaything, believing that he instead belongs in the trash. There thus follows an admirably off-kilter running gag in which the nihilistic utensil is essentially placed on suicide watch. The tone darkens further when wholesome cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks) finds himself trapped in an antique shop, hounded by ventriloquist’s dummies intent on ripping out his voice box. It all whips by at such a frenetic pace, you’ll likely be caught off guard by the devastatingly poignant final act, which sees multiple characters take brave leaps into the unknown. This may not be the best Toy Story, but it’s perhaps the most bittersweet.
Toy Story 4 | Directed by Josh Cooley (US 2019) with Tom Hanks, Tim Allen. Starts August 15.
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