The Saga Continues, by Barnabas Protnicki

19 Jun

Having ended on such a perfect note, I was wary of the Toy Story saga continuing with a fourth installment. After all, I grew up watching these toys, and was in college myself when Andy said goodbye to Woody and his friends as he left home. I still quote the original Toy Story all the time, mostly around my family. But rather than quoting something popular like “To Infinity and Beyond”, I instead think about Mr. Potato Head losing to Hamm in battleship, handing Hamm his nose and bartering, “How about three out of five?” Or Sid’s little sister looking desperately for her precious doll, until she steps on an intriguing Buzz Lightyear toy, playfully saying, “Nevermind.”

While I didn’t expect Toy Story 4 to live up to the original trilogy (and it doesn’t), it still had me laughing all the way through.  There was silly and yet smart humor, as Pixar continues to explore what obstacles a toy faces in its lifetime.  It’s amazing how my attachment to these toys over the past fifteen years had me in tears by the end of the movie! 

There are fun new toys, from our new lead Forky (Tony Hale) and stunt motorcyclist Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) to Ducky and Bunny (Keegan Michael Key & Jordan Peele), and with favorites Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the ever-introspective Woody (Tom Hanks). Every line and every detail is used to create a comedy that is fun for the whole family (even for those young kids who are experiencing their first Toy Story).

Toy Story 4 was fresh and exciting, although it seemed to recycle the idea of the forgotten and bitter toys, who have had to learn to make sense of life without an owner. The only other area that really disappointed me was how much the toys’ actions directly affected the humans in the story. It wasn’t as unbelievable as an octopus driving a truck (as in Finding Dory), but there were some over the top toy/human interactions. While that trick has been used in previous installments (“So play nice!”), the toys this time seemed to have too much power and interaction with a world that’s not supposed to know of their “animation.”

The tough thing about making any type of sequel is that you might accidentally contradict people’s constructions of what happened to the characters after the last movie. Every person can make up in their own head how Woody and Buzz spent the rest of their lives after Toy Story 3 ended. Just like Han Solo in The Force Awakens, there’s no longer any mystery or the notion of our beloved characters “living happily ever after.” I’m actually kind of upset that Pixar has chosen to tell me what happens to Woody and Buzz, but maybe that’s just because it’s an ending that was emotionally hard for me to bear.

I guess one thing Toy Story 4 teaches us is that life is full of change. When you look for something to rely on as consistent in your life, sometimes it disappears. I often find myself living in the past, trying to re-create that special moment or road trip or situation, while life is more about living in the present (something I find incredibly hard to do). You are constantly looking forward to when the grass is greener, not realizing it’s more about working with the lawn you have! You just never know when life will change, so take advantage of the things that you have today.

Even while this movie isn’t perfect, I still very much enjoyed it. To make me laugh the whole way through, only to have me sobbing at the end is, to me, the sign of a great movie. I highly recommend seeing Toy Story 4. It will literally make you laugh and cry.

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