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Review: Toy Story 4

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When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy. IMDb

 Did we need another instalment in this cash cow franchise? Wasn’t the emotional scarring of Toy Story 3 enough?

The cynic in me was ready to dismiss this as a moneymaking exercise but–ah, Pixar.

I went for the fun, for the glorious animation, the jokes and the pop culture reference (for the grown-ups). I came away as an emotional wreck. Again.

It is joyous and, for children, a rollicking good film. Excellent voice actors, a good story and humour make for a great family film.

In fact, the character of Bonnie is fleshed out in (dare I say it?) a better way than Andy, in that her experiences are more central to the story.

It is adventurous, with toys rocketing around in their own off-road vehicle and barely escaping cats, fairground rides and super creepy ventriloquist dummies. Remember that character from Goosebumps? Now imagine lots of them – yeesh!

The new characters are wonderful additions–all up to Pixar’s high standard. A vintage doll, Gabby Gabby, is exactly like dolls that were popular in the 50s and 60s.

The top shelf prizes in sideshow alley at a funfair (a duck and a rabbit whose hands are joined) are as rough and tumble as you’d expect carnie toys to be. These two are voiced by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key and they bring the crazy-fluffy crazy.

Then there’s Duke. Duke Kaboom. Pose. The Canuck who can. New pose. Voiced by my favourite Ted, Keanu Reeves, he is a scene-stealer. He and Gabby Gabby are in an antique shop because they were defective. Never played with, or played with and rejected, they (and an old favourite who returns) are the lost soul of this movie.

Curious then, that the MacGuffin is a made toy who gets lost. Bonnie creates Forky out of a one-use spork, some plasticine, pop sticks and pipe cleaners and invests all her love into him. A lot of humour comes from Woody trying to convince him he is not trash and Bonnie needs him. And a lot more comes from Buzz trying to listen to his inner voice – you’ll understand when you see it.

The deep emotions, the ones I left with, were to do with leaving the familiar, finding your own path and most of all, making your own choices.

It is what children do as they grow up and leave home and it is what these toys ultimately do. I love that they have a continuing life after Andy but the person I felt sad for was me, the mum.

I remember when my younger daughter had a dessertspoon she called ‘Ducky’ for a couple of months. It was a great source of giggles for her and her sister. She stuck clothes to it, she cuddled it and she let her creativity shine through in her play.

She is still a creative grown up but she is grown up. It is inevitable and almost all the time the life paths of my children thrill me. But just for a minute or two after this film, I missed the little girls I had.

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