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Review: The Bittersweet Brilliance of Toy Story 4

Josh Cooley, Review, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • June 21, 2019

 

Why did Toy Story 4 have to get made? It’s a question that director Josh Cooley asked himself. His answer was that every ending has a beginning. Just because the toys’ journey with Andy was over didn’t mean their journey with Bonnie was. In the nine years that have passed between the third and fourth films, there have been three Toy Story Toons and two TV specials. Life size Lego figures of Woody and Buzz stand beside the reception desk at Pixar. As Toy Story 4 producer Mark Nielson put it, those guys are in the fabric of the studio. How could this movie not get made?!

Toy Story will mark its 25th anniversary next year. For some of the animators on Toy Story 4, the 1995 film is the first they ever saw. I can’t imagine the joy and thrill of being able to animate characters that you spent your childhood with. And not only that, but you get to work on new characters for this world, who may end up being just as iconic and beloved as the original ones.

Those original characters, our old pals, are happily being played with by Bonnie. All except one. Woody, who once enjoyed the vaunted position of the favorite toy, and by default, leader of the rest, is now none of those things. He gets tossed in the closet with toys Bonnie has outgrown and no longer plays with. It’s a dull and lonely existence, but Woody still firmly believes in his purpose to be there unconditionally for his kid. That’s why he stows himself away in Bonnie’s backpack on the first day of kindergarten. He’s not supposed to. Toys aren’t allowed. But Bonnie is having such a tough time facing this newest adventure that Woody just can’t let her do it alone.

So when Bonnie makes a toy out of a spork and names him Forky (Tony Hale), Woody is actually privy to a very special moment. Bonnie loves her little oddball creation immediately. The way she looks at Forky, that love she has for him that he doesn’t even understand or want to reciprocate, are things Woody no longer enjoys. And that’s why he’ll do anything to keep Bonnie from losing Forky.

 

Bonnie does lose Forky quite a bit while on a road trip with her parents and all the other toys – she just doesn’t know it because of Woody’s singleminded pursuit of him. Forky runs longingly to any trash receptacle he can find. “Trash! Trash! Trash!” is his gleeful refrain. He makes his final escape out of the window of the RV, triumphantly yelling, “I’M LITTER!” Yes, it’s just as glorious as it sounds. 

Forky doesn’t get far before Woody finds him, and a heart-to-heart chat about what it means to be loved by a kid convinces Forky to return to Bonnie.

But Woody and Forky have to take a couple of detours before either of them can go back.

The first of these detours takes place in Second Chance Antiques, where a familiar lamp sits in the window. Bo Peep’s lamp. Woody’s love that went away all those years ago isn’t inside the shop, which Woody and Forky find out for themselves when they go looking for her. They meet the unsettling Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) instead, a pretty little doll in a prim dress, and her horde of even more unsettling ventriloquist dummy henchmen. These guys inspire so much terror – the way they move is the worst. People are going to have nightmares and it’s Pixar’s fault.

Woody does eventually find Bo Peep after that frightening horror movie ordeal, and their reunion is awash in sunlight. When we talk about the most meaningful, inspired, symbolic Pixar movie scenes, this is going to be one of them. It’s just a brief interlude where neither of them speak because a child is playing with them, and that’s the beauty of it.

 

Though it’s been 20 whole years since we last saw Bo Peep, though her presence in this series was so slight even before she was written out of Toy Story 3, her inclusion in Toy Story 4 just feels right. It’s the most natural thing in the world. For Cooley, story supervisor Valerie LaPointe and others, this porcelain shepherdess was the reason they wanted to make the film. I predicted that Bo would be so much more significant, but even I couldn’t have guessed just how much! Again I ask, how could this movie not get made?

In addition to reintroducing Bo Peep, the film achieves yet another marvelous feat with its introduction of distinct and lovable new toys. Forky is joined by Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), and Ducky and Bunny (Keegan Micheal Key and Jordan Peele). (For anyone who’s seen Peele’s Us, the fact that he’s playing a rabbit in a carnival toy game is eerie and awesome). While it’s a little disappointing that the new toys get more screentime over the older ones, that ultimately served the story best. (This is why we need more Toy Story toons). And then there’s Gabby Gabby. I was so prepared to hate her, but something kept telling me I would be proven wrong. I’m glad I was. Gabby isn’t what she appears to be. There’s always a certain value in stories where the villains aren’t what we expect at all.

Reeves and the comedy duo of Key and Peele are so fantastic that I would love to hear them again in another Pixar feature or a future Toy Story toon! Tony Hale had so much fun recording, that even if I hadn’t seen the footage of him in the booth, it wouldn’t matter; his enjoyment is palpable. Christina Hendricks also does memorable, heartbreaking, versatile work as Gabby. I’d be remiss not to praise yet another cast member in their Pixar debut, Ally Maki, as the impossibly adorable Giggle McDimples. That giggle and voice of hers are so infectious! The veterans, namely Tom Hanks, Annie Potts, and Tim Allen, are still at the top of their game.

Toy Story 4‘s other big feat concerns the plot. There’s so much of it, but it doesn’t once overwhelm the characters or feel unwieldy. Without its precise pacing, the film would suffer, it would just be a lot of noise. With Randy Newman’s subtle updates to his iconic score and the newer pieces, Toy Story 4 feels a lot like home; it’s a comforting nod to the past that is still looking forward. The nostalgia is potent but not overdone.

And it’s unbelievably hilarious too. I can’t remember the last time I heard so much raucous outbreak of laughter in a packed theater before. This movie is much wackier than the three that came before, but it’s just as beautiful, unforgettable, and devastating too. It might actually be the most heartbreaking of them all.

I simply can’t wait to watch it again.

Toy Story 4 is now playing in theaters nationwide.

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Grab Your New Toy Story 4 Interactive Talking Action Figures This Week!

Disney, Josh Cooley, Toy Story 4

Posted by Nia • June 17, 2019

With only four days to go until Toy Story 4 is finally released in cinemas, there’s no better time than now to peruse your local Disney Store or check out Shop Disney Online and pick up your own interactive action figures of your favorite Toy Story characters!

The ol’ gang is definitely back and ready to play! You’ll be able to find action figures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Rex, and Bullseye in stores. The exclusive line-up also features the new and improved Bo Peep and the loveable Forky, which you can see in the gallery above. The interactive action figures each have 10 unique expressions when they’re playing alone but when they’re paired with another figure, they unlock special phrases with their new interactive features. The toys are even able to sense when another interactive figure is nearby and they instantly start “talking” to each other, making you believe you’re right in the middle of a Toy Story film.

Has anyone bought their own figures yet? What are some of the special sayings you’ve heard when putting the toys together?

I don’t know about you, but I’m bringing all of mine to the cinema this Friday to watch Toy Story 4! We hope to see you there!

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Meet Your New Favorite Toy Story 4 Character: Duke Caboom

Jonas Rivera, Josh Cooley, teaser, teasers, Toy Story 4

Posted by Nia • May 3, 2019

Just like Trixie, we have a lot of questions about Pixar’s new teaser trailer introducing the Canadian daredevil Duke Caboom. Watch below and prepare to be blown away with awesomeness:

First of all, how many poses can Duke Caboom really do? Is he Canada’s only daredevil? How does he style his goatee so perfectly? And why is he so freakin’ cool?

In the teaser, we watch a vintage style advert showcase Duke riding his motorcycle, doing dangerous jumps through hoops, and somehow managing to pose on his ride as he soars through the sky. The trailer then cuts to a child playing with a Duke Caboom toy as she attempts to replicate his famous jumps through a hoop set. We quickly find out, a la typical Toy Story fashion, that these toys can’t do what they’re advertised for. Just like in the original Toy Story, Buzz discovers he can’t really fly but Duke Caboom already seems to know that everything’s all a facade, as he utters the line: “It’s a commercial, it’s not real! I can’t jump that far!” It will definitely be interesting to see how Duke interacts with Buzz, Woody, and the rest of the gang and what role he has in this new adventure. Duke Caboom is also voiced by real life action star Keanu Reeves, so we’re all definitely in for a massive treat.

In addition to the teaser, Pixar also released some stunning new character posters that show Buzz, Woody, and Bo Peep giving their best action hero pose as we near even closer to Toy Story 4‘s June 21st release. It seems like everyone is inspired by Duke…

Can you say, “Caboom?!”

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Updates from Toy Story 4 cast

Jonas Rivera, Josh Cooley, Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • January 31, 2019

It seems like we’ve been spoiled with lots of Toy Story 4 content lately! With the film less than five months away, things are wrapping up. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, along with new cast addition Tony Hale (Forky) have posted photos to their respective twitter accounts with the rest of the crew about their final days recording lines. It’s a little bittersweet!

What a momentous occasion this is. After three pitch perfect films, Toy Story 4 will be the last adventure we have with Woody and the gang. Still anticipating the film, but also don’t want this series to end!

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Details on The Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4 and more at D23

Coco, D23, Dan Scanlon, Josh Cooley, Lee Unkrich, Suburban Fantasy Film, The Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4

Posted by Simoa • July 14, 2017

The d in D23 should stand for dream, because it’s a dream come true for anyone lucky to attend. While your faithful writers here at Pixar Planet weren’t at the convention center in Anaheim, we do have plenty of news that’s sure to get you pumped for Pixar’s upcoming slate!

Coco

Lee Unkrich’s tribute to Mexico’s most famous holiday will be released on Thanksgiving. Coco “explores the universal themes of family bonds as well as celebrating the past.” A new image of main character Miguel with Hector, his guide in the spirit world, was revealed at D23. Anthony Gonzalez, voice of Miguel and Benjamin Bratt, who voices Miguel’s idol Ernesto de La Cruz, performed a song at the panel’s conclusion. It was penned by the duo behind the music of Frozen, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

The Incredibles 2

The Parr family returns to the big screen on June 15, 2018. Less than a year away folks! The original cast is back with newcomer Huck Milner voicing Dash. The film picks up just minutes after the events of the first, which means The Underminer gets much more screen time. And in this sequel, Elastigirl has a much more prominent role. This is what we’ve come to expect from Pixar sequels, a focus on new and returning female characters. More details about the film from Coming Soon.net:

“Bob is watching Jack-Jack, but falls asleep on the couch. On the TV, there’s an old black and white movie with cops chasing robbers. Jack-Jack sees a masked bandit on TV and then looks outside to see a raccoon digging through the trash. Thinking that the raccoon looks like the burglar, he confronts it. At first, the raccoon tries to scare the baby off, but Jack-Jack’s powers activate and he chases the critter through the yard Jack-Jack appears to have way more powers than in the short, too! Bob wakes up and finds his son fighting the raccoon and is super excited to learn that his son has powers.”

Check out this video celebrating fashion’s most intrepid designer, Edna Mode!

Toy Story 4

John Lasseter announced that the fourth installment will be directed by Josh Cooley. Cooley shared a director credit with Lasseter, but now the film is being solely directed by him. We’re excited for his debut!

And that’s not all. A new film with was also announced today. Fans should be delighted to learn that Dan Scanlon will be helming this feature, his first since 2013’s Monsters University. “The Untitled Pixar Film That Takes You To A Suburban Fantasy World” blends magic with ordinary life. It’s a world inhabited entirely by fantasy beings, but no human ones. One of the clips featured unicorns scavenging for trash. Not the ethereal creatures we usually imagine! Per Variety:

“…the untitled Pixar project will follow two characters who must go on a quest to track down their lost father, a man they known nothing about.” The project has some personal undertones for Scanlon, who lost his father at a young age. Hopefully this newest film will quell any lingering worries about Pixar’s reliance on sequels, and the persistent belief that they no longer are capable of original stories. No release date has been set.

A big thanks to our friends over at The Pixar Times for their coverage! Let us know which films you’re looking forward to most.

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