‘Toy Story 4’ proves a step forward for the franchise

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To make yet another sequel, after having what seems to be an incredibly satisfying and well-rounded conclusion, is a decisively bold move. One that for many franchises spells doom. For many series, the continued dragging on of its characters through different adventures makes each journey less impactful, and stretches out and degrades the quality of its overall canon. However, in this regard, “Toy Story 4” is a pleasant surprise. Rather than beat the dead horse of its own previous character developments, “Toy Story 4” takes its protagonist, Woody, to the next logical step in his development. While perhaps not the best of the “Toy Story” franchise, “Toy Story 4” is an adorable, good time for all.

“Toy Story 4” once again follows Woody (Tom Hanks) and the rest of the collection of toys as they live with their new child, Bonnie. However, their job as toys begins to prove difficult as Bonnie brings home a new favorite toy, made from a spork, pipe cleaner, and other assorted pieces of trash, dubbed Forky (Tony Hale). But Forky has a knack for trying to throw himself in the trash, and ends up throwing himself out of the window of an RV during a family road trip. Woody and the gang must follow to a traveling carnival in order to convince Forky to come back to Bonnie, while also running into some familiar faces along the way.

“Toy Story 4” asks interesting questions of its audience. The film leans into its “magical toys” premise, and asks you to ponder on how toys reconcile with their own seeming immortality. Every child grows old, and the film forces you to reflect on how that rinse and repeat lifestyle may sink in as the toys grow older, and how that time may lead to disillusionment. While this may seem heavy for a family movie, the film handles it in a way that allows for laughs, as well as some tears to be shed.

It’s no secret that the “Toy Story” franchise has a great cast, but needless to say, they return, and are still fantastic. What is more notable is the wonderful new additions to the cast, who add a comical joy and flavor to the film. First, there’s the duo of Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key as the hilarious, though very confrontational, best friends Ducky and Bunny. Given their history, it should be no surprise that they’re hilarious. But who really steals the show is the internet’s favorite leading man, Keanu Reeves, as “Duke Kaboom, Canada’s Greatest Stuntman.” Not to spoil anything about his character (besides his incredible name), but rest assured, Reeves’ performance will bring many a smile to your face.

While this review may seem a little shorter, it’s only because the parts that I’d like to talk about are moments that deserve to be seen firsthand. There are really adorable and touching moments, and it never feels like the characters have regressed at all in their development between films, a task that can be quite difficult at the 4th movie in a franchise. To put it bluntly, if you have even an inkling of nostalgia for Woody and Buzz, then this film will most certainly not disappoint. And neither will Keanu Reeves.