I must admit that, when I heard they were making a fourth Toy Story, my reaction was pessimistic. What was the need? Aren’t we overstuffed with sequels? Toy Story 3 had brought the perfect ending to this tale. These films had accompanied me since I was a little girl, and I grew up as Andy did. When he began a new stage of his life, so did I, saying goodbye to the memories of childhood and entering the adult world. My point is, I cried like a baby with Toy Story 3 and I didn’t think I needed another one.
But boy, I was wrong. I have enjoyed Toy Story 4 (TS4) wholeheartedly, but the reason why I have loved it is, well, because I am an adult now. Because make no mistake: they are selling you an animated feature, but this is a full-on existential drama. With stuffed toys.
I don’t want to spoil too much for you, because I want you to enjoy the journey of sitting through TS4 while you ponder your life choices, but I will tell you a little bit: after Andy went to college at the end of TS3 and gave his toys to a girl named Bonnie (we have to suffer through a tearful rewatch of that at the beginning, accompanied by “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” because they want you to cry a lot again), Woody is now concerned (and hiding it) because Bonnie hardly ever chooses him for play time.
That up there is Woody’s main existential crisis in this movie. But everyone gets one! Allow me to continue: Bonnie goes to some sort of first day of school (although it is only an introduction day? I need an American to explain this to me, please), she ends up making (with the hidden help of Woody) a toy out of… a spork. The spork, named Forky, is hilariously voiced by Tony Hale, and he, too, has an existential crisis of his own (seriously, this movie is NOT for kids).
For plot reasons, they all end up on a trip, but Forky’s escalating existential crisis makes him jump off a window (not for kids!), and in this adventure, Woody reunites with Bo Peep. Screwball romantic comedy ensues. Along the way, we also meet new characters (I won’t tell you who, so I don’t spoil it) voiced by Christina Hendricks, the great Key and Peele (best comic relief) and the immortal Keanu Reeves (please, watch him play himself in Always Be My Maybe).
Again, I don’t want to spoil the plot for you, but this is a story about the meaning of life, our purpose, and whether we should do our duty or what makes us happy. And it has probably traumatised me for life. I left the theatre concerned beyond reason about all the Barbies from my childhood that I keep locked in a trunk in a storage unit.
God, I hope they are doing okay.
Like I said: Not. For. Kids.