Recently, I watched Toy Story 4. When it was over, I realized not only did I have a lot of thoughts about it, but this would be a great addition to my blog.
As most people familiar with Toy Story would know, it's made by Pixar. Pixar is known for using amazing arcs and development with their stories, and you can expect the same with this movie alone, and even more so with the lore of Toy Story as a whole. They're not afraid to change the characters in the end, for bad and good. They're not even afraid to show truth or realism, which is something a lot of people in storytelling are afraid of as they meet a lot of criticism in response.
Change affects everyone, and it's what makes characters grow by the end of the tale. Without change, there's no point in telling a story. Unfortunately, change isn't always a good thing. Even with the good kind of change, it usually means an escape from comfort and a trial of hardship. This is why change can be scary. In times of hardship, the future is uncertain. But this is why change is important to show in stories. We go through it, and so should our favorite characters. I applaud this aspect, and I feel like a lot of TV shows I watched only allows a little tidbit of change outside of important plot points. That is a rant for another post.
What I'm getting with this, is that this movie changed a story that's as old as I am! And boy, it changed everything about these lovable characters. Expect a lot of spoilers below. If you haven't seen it yet, come back later, all right?
The first movie was simple enough. The favorite toy of a child gets replaced with a new, state-of-the-art toy. The first one gets jealous and tries to kick the new one off the pedestal. Instead, they end up lost together and grow to be friends as they make their way home again.
The second expanded the first. Woody is stolen by a man who wants to complete his collection, and the other toys try to take him back. This one took us outside of Andy's neighborhood and into a wider world. We learned a little about toys that were left behind, but it wasn't until the next movie where we experienced that first hand.
It was the third one that changed everything we knew about the characters. It was dark and filled with heartbreak as Andy grew up and no longer played with his toys. The movie showed grieving toys without owners, toys getting left behind or thrown in a junkyard, memories of happier times gone by, and toys being passed down to other kids. This movie is almost too hard for adults to watch!
It's been many years since the third was made, and I wondered what the 4th movie could do to expand the story. I wasn't judging it before I saw it, but it's hard to make a good movie years after the last one. I wanted them to add something great to the series. Now that I saw it, I can say I was very impressed!
The first thing that stuck out to me was something I admired from the trailer. We see Woody encouraging a toy to be the favorite of the child. That is the complete opposite of what happened in the first movie. He once belittled and bullied Buzz, and now he did everything in his power to ensure the protection of Bonnie's favorite.
I also liked the idea of crafted DIY toys becoming a part of the cast. It makes the world of toys even bigger when any toy can come to life, even ones made up of trash and craft supplies.
In the third movie, the characters briefly mentioned how they lost some of their members over the last couple of hard years. Woody also mentions Bo Peep was among them. The new movie starts out by showing us just where they lost her. We learn throughout the movie that she came with a lamp and she belonged to Andy's sister, who was terrified of the dark. Eventually, she wasn't afraid anymore and gave Bo Peep away.
Bo Peep is lightly suggested in the first and also in this movie that she may be Woody's love interest, which is interesting considering he's the main character and she's a very minor one. The movies have never been about love interests, so I like how Pixar remains focused on the story.
After Forky jumps out of the RV and Woody rushes to bring him back, the team discover Bo Peep's lamp in the window of an antique store. Woody, interested in looking for her, convinces Forky to go inside and look with him. Here, we meet someone I believed to be the antagonist. Gabby seems friendly at first, but we discover she wants Woody's voice box. She was defective right out of her box and her voice box doesn't work. However, her recording does, and she wants to be flawless so she could become a child's toy. Both her and Woody were made in the 50s, and so they have the same model.
The other movies had villains, and so it made sense for Gabby to be one. I predicted how the movie would end by how the others went. I figured they would rush in, save Forky, escape the evil Gabby, and all of them, even the reluctant Bo Peep, will return to Bonnie safely.
That's not how it ended at all.
I was very surprised at Gabby's character. She was not the bad guy, and not only did the team help her, but they also gave her what she originally wanted all along. Yes, Woody gave her his voice box. Woody had a voice box from the very start of the series, and it always played important parts in the movies. Now, over twenty years later, he gives it away. Not just that, but he never returned to Bonnie in the end.
Woody was always attached to the kid he was with, especially Andy. This movie didn't touch on it very much, but there was a sub-plot playing under the surface. Woody still misses Andy, and he's having a hard time letting go. He mistakenly calls Bonnie Andy at times, and he feels like he's falling out of purpose. He knows Bonnie will end up leaving or passing him along to a different kid once she grows up, and this life will repeat over and over.
Instead of repeating history, he joins Bo Peep as a "lost toy." Now, they work together to ensure lonely toys find a loving home. This is a powerful, purposeful end to the movie. Woody always hated the idea of being without a kid. He said loving a child and watching them grow up was a toy's greatest purpose, and now he helps other toys live out those moments he once had. If there's anything that's upsetting about the ending to me, is that Woody and Buzz would be split up. The two are inseparable! And yet this ending pushes the story to a greater array of possibilities than where I originally thought it was going.
Over this magnificent movie, I picked out a familiar formula, but I was also dumbfounded at the twists and turns along the way. Pixar's amazing art of storytelling can be found all over this movie, even if it wasn't another installment in the toy story series. I was impressed just how much they changed the characters and scenes (in a good way!) and how much this movie added to the world of toy story. It was bittersweet and surprising, and it surpassed my judgment of what I was expecting.
Is there anything I missed? Did you feel any different? Leave me a comment about it below! Now I'm just wondering one thing; if Woody is a toy made in the 50s, what was he doing before Andy?