TOY STORY 4 (6/21/2019)
Director: Josh Cooley
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts

My Rating: 9/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 98% Certified Fresh

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

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Frankly, one of the best “perks” of “Toy Story 4” is the return of Bo Peep. I had always wondered what had happened to her in “Toy Story 3” that had Woody so sad. I’m glad we got to see why she was no longer around, and I’m glad we get to see how she’s fared in the intervening years. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

“Toy Story 4” is not quite the apogee of perfection that is “Toy Story 3”, especially when it comes to the heartstring-tugging, but it’s a marvelous film on its own, and the ending is a fitting curtain call to the franchise. Woody, Buzz, and the gang have gone through more hair-raising, death-defying adventures than Indiana Jones, it sometimes seems, and the fact that they reach the true start of truly new chapters in their lives by the time the credits roll is comforting.

This fourth version introduces an intriguing element in the form of a doll named Gabby Gabby. She’s one of those dolls that every girl seems to have owned at some point in her life…at least, every girl born before 2010, I’d guess. She resides in an antiques store, and she has a problem: her voice box is defective. When you pull her string, instead of a little girl’s voice, you hear what sounds like a 45 being played at 33 1/3. (You older readers can explain that one to the younger ones.)

Her potential salvation: Woody’s voice box is in perfect working order. All she has to do is somehow exchange voice boxes, whether Woody volunteers it or not, and she’ll have the chance to get a little human girl to love her enough to take her home.

This…is creepy. There’s something unsettling about this Gabby Gabby character because she’s a cute little doll who essentially wants to perform an organ transplant whether Woody wants to or not. She’s just so…matter-of-fact about it.

I notice that I’m doing a lot of simple play-by-play, and not really giving a sense of the movie itself. This is because, while it’s skillfully made and emotionally engaging, it’s not like this movie breaks new ground, exactly. I think it’s a good thing this will finally be the last Toy Story film. It’s becoming much harder to imagine what else Pixar can put these characters through, and I’d hate for them to push things too far like they did with the “Cars” franchise.

But don’t get me wrong, it was incredibly entertaining, and I loved every minute of it. If you liked the first three movies – heck, if you love ANY Pixar movie – you won’t be disappointed by this one. It’s just…you’ve gotta see it for yourself. At this point, any further reviewing of the movie would involve spoiler alerts and scene descriptions and re-telling my favorite lines, and that’s not really a review anymore, that’s just a synopsis.

Suffice to say: “Toy Story 4” delivers the kind of movie we’ve come to expect from Pixar. It’ll make you laugh, jump, laugh some more, give you a couple of hanky moments, and it’ll look GREAT doing it.

(It’s not exactly Pauline Kael, but I stand by it.)