Blu-ray Review: Toy Story 4 | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, May 31st, 2020  

Toy Story 4

Studio: Walt Disney

Oct 11, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It’s frankly stunning how well the Toy Story franchise can tap human pathos from adventure tales centered on playthings that come alive and talk. Toy Story 4 doesn’t drag its adult viewers through an emotional wringer quite like its predecessor, but it still gives them a few surprisingly weighty thoughts to chew on and maybe get misty-eyed about while their kids laugh through the humorous and action-fueled caper.

Toy Story 4 picks up a few short years after the end of the last film. Woody is having hard time adapting to his new kid, Bonnie—unlike he was with Andy, Woody isn’t a favorite toy and often finds himself left behind in the closet while the other toys are brought out to be played with. When Bonnie starts kindergarten and has trouble adjusting, Woody devotes himself to helping her blend in, even when that means babysitting her craft time creation, Forky (voiced by Tony Hale), a makeshift toy made from a spork, pipe cleaners, and putty, who desires nothing more than to be back in the trash can where he feels he belongs.

Much of the story takes place in or around an antiques store where old toys go to languish and collect dust. There’s also a contingent of “lost” toys, who were left behind by their kids and now hang around a public playground and are free to have non-monogamous relationships with any child who passes through. Combined with Woody’s predicament of being an afterthought for Bonnie and Forky’s longing to be thrown away, Toy Story has a ton to unpack about its characters’ roles in the word and the lives of the people they care most about. That’s some heavy, existential shit to ponder, but Toy Story once again deals with it in a far more bite-sized and entertaining manner than Ingmar Bergman ever mustered.

But, it’s still a kid’s movie. The action is thrilling, and the jokes are broad enough for a four-year-old to get. There are fun new characters, such as a motor biking action figure who’s a Canada-themed knockoff of Evel Knievel, and a pair of cheapo, stuffed carnival prizes who are joined at the paw. Plus, the movie’s cadre of villainous ventriloquist dummies—the “Bensons”—are the series’ most unnerving bad guys.

Toy Story 4 looks wonderful on Blu-ray; it’s amazing how far the computer animation has progressed over the last 25 years, with some of the backgrounds and settings looking as detailed and realistic as photographs. Extra features are plentiful, and include a reel of brief, deleted scenes and numerous, short documentaries about the series’ many beloved characters.


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