To some, simply a relic of childhood nostalgia. To others, one of the most well-made and cohesive film trilogies of all time. Regardless of who you are, the vast influence of Toy Story on the film industry as we know it cannot be underestimated. As the first ever feature length movie entirely rendered through the emerging medium of three-dimensional animation, Toy Story opened innumerable doors in terms of possibilities not just for Pixar, but for visual storytelling as a whole.
Now with twenty films under their belt, including three in this revered franchise, Pixar has pushed 3D to its extremes, and have taken audiences under the sea, into the skies, and floating through outer space. So, while Toy Story 4, which will be released on the 21st of June, is not the most ambitious or risky film the studio has ever created, fans worldwide will be waiting with baited breath for what will happen on Woody and the gang’s next adventure.
Who’s returning for Toy Story 4
First things first: who will be returning in this new instalment? The first teaser released made this somewhat clearer, showing Woody, Buzz, Jessie, and the Potato Heads amongst others from the first two movies. Characters like Trixie and Mr Pricklepants also crop up in later trailers, as toys of the not-so-new-kid Bonnie, who the original characters were left with during the tear-jerking ending of the last movie. But this was to be expected, and I doubt any of this is a surprise to fans. What may be, though, is the unanticipated return of Bo Peep, Woody’s love interest who mysteriously disappeared midway through the franchise. With the advances in this type of animation, a different look was inevitable, but a revamped outfit better suited for adventuring signals a new role for this old character – one that isn’t necessarily just romantic.
Who are the newbies in the movie?
Onto the newcomers. In the aforementioned initial teaser, the toys are shown holding hands and spinning in a circle to the tune of Joni Mitchell’s beautiful Both Sides Now – already a rather foreboding song when you listen past the twinkling melody. Suddenly, an unfamiliar face throws a spanner in the works, tripping up the others and bringing the video to the end. This is Forky, later revealed to be a makeshift toy lovingly crafted by Bonnie from a plastic fork and pipe cleaners. Aside from raising some existential questions (how did Bonnie create life and where is the line drawn between toy and object?), this suggests the main conflict for the film in a new, seemingly sympathetic character that will throw off the group equilibrium. Additionally, while they will primarily and predictably serve as comic relief, Key and Peele will appear as Ducky and Bunny, carnival plush toys who will apparently be ‘story-motivated’, and not just around for humour.
Though Disney are currently on their way to running the film industry, having been responsible for three of five of the highest grossing films in 2018, Pixar has found itself in choppier waters. With Pixar pioneer John Lasseter having been fired over a shocking number of misconduct allegations, the reputation of the studio is more tarnished than ever, and many (including myself) are concerned that a fourth Toy Story will spoil the integrity of an iconic trio of movies. Though I think the feminist makeover of Bo Peep comes off as putting a plaster on a broken leg with regard to the Lasseter situation, the quality of the film remains to be seen – we’ll just have to wait until June to see if we’ll be worshipping the new quadrilogy, or wishing this latest film had never come along.
Toy Story 4 is now available to stream or buy from most popular streaming platforms. More information about the movie can be found here.
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