Don’t Be Afraid To See Toy Story 4
Going into Toy Story 4, I had one Walt Disney quote in mind:
“Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows.” Walt Disney
With that quote rattling around my brain, and thinking about the emotional state I was in during the final few moments of Toy Story 3, I genuinely feared ugly-crying in front of my kids while watching Toy Story 4.
But I need not have worried…
Toy Story Reboot
More of a reboot than a sequel, Toy Story 4 is highly satisfying, very entertaining canon-thickening addition to the franchise. With many homages to moments in many Pixar and Disney films (and more than one Star Wars call out), the film wills itself to be viewed over and over.
The official synopsis set the stage:
Fans around the world thought the toys’ story had ended when Andy brought his long-loved pull-string cowboy Woody and the gang—Buzz, Jessie, Slinky, Rex and the rest—to live with Bonnie, a young friend of the family who—like Andy—has a huge imagination when it comes to her toys. “Like most people, I assumed that ‘Toy Story 3’ was the end of the story,” says director Josh Cooley. “Turns out it was only the end of Woody’s story with Andy. Just like in life, every ending is a new beginning. Woody now being in a new room, with new toys and a new kid, was something we have never seen before. The questions of what that would be like became the beginning of an entertaining story worth exploring.”
The answers to those questions made for a fun and funny hour and forty minutes (don’t miss the post credit scenes). And the twists and turns found in the narrative journey make for some unexpected moments.
Bo Peep is Essential to the Plot of Toy Story 4
“If you were to run into Woody at the end of this movie and ask him, ‘What’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to you?,’ he would say that meeting Bo Peep for the second time is the biggest thing by far,” said Toy Story 4 producer Jonas Rivera in the film’s press notes.
To that I say, “#TRUTH.”
Tom Hanks (Woody) added, “Bo Peep is interesting because she has made her peace… She’s wise because she’s actually seen the way the world works.
“On one hand, it’s completely counter to what Woody is hip to. But at the same time Bo’s outlook is the embodiment of what Woody wants, which is to be played with by children, and to make their lives happier.”
The movie makes the lives of children (of all ages) happier, but not necessarily in the way the audience expects. Much like Star Wars: The Force Awakens relied on Rey (Daisy Ridley) to inject new life into the franchise, Bo — whose costume and staff literally recall Rey’s — takes the action and adventure of this outing to a new level.
“Bo’s not leading a conventional life right now,” said Annie Potts (Bo Peep). “She’s like, ‘I have an awesome life!’ Those people who bloom where they’re planted are always an inspiration.”
Nostalgia as Sickness
The etymology of “nostalgia” puts the word in the context of “acute homesickness.”
For the most part, the Toy Story franchise put it’s heart in a world that is definitively in the past; where the audience longs for a place that no longer exists.
Woody, in particular, has always been the toy to keep looking back. But now, as happiness — his own happiness — hangs in the balance in Toy Story 4; the sheriff must find an ability to transcend that homesickness (in the physical guise of an antique shop).
Thanks to that particular push and pull for Woody, I had the wrong Walt Disney quote in mind: