Toy Story 4 ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Well, I certainly didn't see that coming...

While I appreciate plot twists that align with what has been already established in a story the twist such as in Toy Story 4 where the chief protagonist's core values suddenly undergoes transformation - in the last few minutes of the story, mind you - is something that, to me, comes across as bizarre, disingenuous, and somewhat forced. I say "somewhat forced" because the screenwriters - leave it to Pixar for somehow composing a largely engaging and coherent story from the input of, a mammoth, 8 persons - have imbued several plot details concerning Woody, namely wistfulness of being Andy's toy, dissatisfaction with Bonnie, and his dependency on her, that are ostensibly believable. However, when one reflects upon these the twist falls apart due to the second and third details.

Seeing Bonnie's attitude towards Woody go from an instant liking in Toy Story 3 to disinterestedness in this film is a disconnect in plot continuity. It's possible that Bonnie probably got bored of playing with the cowboy; if so, a subplot surrounding this would have done much good to the climax's credibility but even this fix probably wouldn't be enough to save the finale. The third detail is the one that, I believe, flies in the face of everything that the viewers have come to know about Woody. To elaborate, the premise that he is dependent on Bonnie to provide him with a sense of fulfillment is an egregious character assassination, in every sense of the word. This is the character who, as a de facto leader of Andy's toys, initiated and personally led so many rescue missions from Toy Story 1 to 3 knowing full well that if successful he will not receive the slightest appreciation from Andy, rescues Forky twice in this film, then commits to a selfless act by willingly sacrificing his functional voice box to Gabby (what Bonnie would think of his altered voice doesn't even register in Woody's mind at this moment), and then encourages her come with him when she's rejected. When these acts of heroism not only reinforce his sense of loyalty but also show that Woody's duties and actions are borne solely out of an intrinsic motivation the aforementioned 3rd plot point easily emerges as a glaring falsehood. The hints about him falling in love with Bo Peep is another story element that's wholly out of place in the world of Toy Story.

That's not to say that the movie is terrible. On the contrary, this may be the funniest one in the franchise; Forky's inner conflict, Duke Kaboom's dramatic reflections on his kid (Keanu Reeves aced the role!), Ducky and Bunny's slapstick comedy, and the hanging high-five by one of the G.I. Joe action figures are some the comedic elements that contributes to the film's hilarity. Despite a few plot conveniences the tension-filled chases by Gabby's dummies, the inventive rescues, and the tight direction and editing that enables the audience to easily comprehend the spatial geography of these complex sequences and characters provide a true sense of rush and adventure to the film. Gabby's decision to stay with the lost child at the carnival is heartfelt and Bo Peep comes close to stealing the spotlight away from Woody thanks to her subtle femininity, which carries over from the previous movies, mixed wonderfully with her resourcefulness and spunky nature that tells so much about her time on her own. The wide shot of Woody and Bo Peep under the car against a rainy night just before their separation and the improbable reunion full of joy as they struggle to regain their composure have been amazingly animated with care given to the details and subtleties which help to bring much depth to these characters and therefore propel these scenes to be the one of the highlights of the franchise.

All that being said, when I heard Woody say "I don't have anything else" I struggled to make sense of this and everything that follows further amplified my state of befuddlement.

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