By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
Nine years is a long time to be away from fun friends. But, that's how long it’s been since we’ve last seen Woody, (Voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the loveable “Toy Story” gang.
They’re back in Disney/Pixar’s animated adventure, “Toy Story 4”
from director Josh Cooley
(“Inside Out”) making his directorial debut.
“Toy Story 4” is the fourth installment in Pixar’s “Toy Story” series and the sequel to 2010’s “Toy Story 3.” Andrew Stanton, ex-Pixar honcho John Lasseter and Stephany Folsom are some of the screenwriters responsible for bringing this colorful story to life.
It begins with little Bonnie (“Madeleine McGraw, “The Curse of La Llorona” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp”).
She's kept a watchful eye over Woody and crew ever since the toys were given to her by Andy (John Morris) in “Toy Story 3.”
Lately, not many of them can make Bonnie happy because she’s dreading having to go to her Kindergarten orientation. Even the pep talks from her mom and dad (Jay Hernandez, TV’s “Magnum P.I.”) and Lori Alan (“SpongeBob Square Pants”) don’t help much.
Woody (Hanks), the caring and kind-hearted soul that he is, can’t stand to see Bonnie so down in the dumps, so he does what any good toy friend would do. He hops in Bonnie’s backpack as she heads out to make sure she’ll be OK.
During Bonnie’s arts and crafts session, she winds up literally making a new friend out of a plastic Spork that Woody retrieves from the trash along with a couple of popsicle sticks, button eyes and some pipe cleaners. It’s an odd, but clever looking thing. “Forky” (Tony Hale, TV’s “Veep”) immediately becomes Bonnie’s best friend. That he was made from trash only makes him all that more special to her.
I wonder if “Forky” will be a big seller like the rest of the “Toy Story” figures come Christmastime.
Anyway, when Forky comes to life, he’s having plenty of anxiety issues. The poor thing doesn’t consider himself a real toy because he’s plastic trash. Surely, he’s not a toy that a kid will want and love. So, every chance Forky gets he runs away and heads for the garbage.
When Bonnie and her family venture out in their RV to a carnival with all her Bonnie’s toys in tow like cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack, TV’s “The Stinky and Dirty Show”), Hamm (John Ratzenberger, Upcoming, “Miracles in East Texas”), Rex (Wallace Shawn, TV’s “Young Sheldon”) and Mr. Potato Head (the late Don Rickles whose voice has been remastered from previous work), it becomes a wild adventure.
Woody is also reunited with his former crush Bo Peep (Annie Potts, TV’s “Young Sheldon”). They’re soon tasked with busting into an antique shop and rescuing Forky who has been taken hostage by a creepy doll named Gabby, Gabby (Christina Hendricks, TV’s “Good Girls”) and her even creepier ventriloquist dummies.
Adding to the mayhem and fun is a cocky, Canadian motorcycle stuntman toy (Keanu Reeves “John Wick: Parabellum”). Can Duke Caboom make the jump of his life to save the day? Yes, he “Can-ada.” Trust me, you’ll laugh when you hear Keanu Reeves say it.
There are also some cute and funny new additions like Combat Carl (Carl Weathers, TV’s “Star Vs. The Forces of Evil”), Bunny and Ducky (Jordan Peele (“Us”) and Keegan-Michael Key, Upcoming “The Lion King”), who bring some chuckles as wannabe tough, furry animals.
Comic legends Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Betty White, and Carol Burnett are part of the mix too. Even Randy Newman’s snappy score, which features the original songs “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” and “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy,” are smile inducing.
But the real charm and beauty of “Toy Story 4” is its simplicity. The quiet message of belonging, friendship and love that’s displayed humorously through these toys, never gets old and resonates loud and clear with children and adults alike.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays now at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.
Check Out This Trailer For "TOY STORY 4"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.