We just finished the latest (and I hope final) installment in the Toy Story franchise. I don’t want to review this movie as the usual “good vs bad.” The movie is solid. I have only one tiny complaint and I’ll express that later. For now, I want to focus on the metaphor’s of the film. This movie brilliantly serves as a kids movie and at the very same time is a film entirely for adults. The cohesion between the two was mind-blowing.
Buzz: In Toy Story 3 he felt very much like a supporting character and even though he got more screen time than the rest of the toys in this film, it still felt like that was his role here. Quite frankly I was a little upset that other toys didn’t have bigger roles considering this was the last film! Alas, I understand there is only so much time and there’s a story to tell.
Anyway, though not to do with the love element (even though it can apply to some extent) Buzz’s plot with the inner voice was perfect. Yes, it was comedic to see it guide him to the right answers but it was crucial in the alley. It had served him right the whole time! Yet, when it was telling him what he didn’t want to hear (to go back to the RV without Woody) he kept pressing it hoping for something different. This is so relatable! It’s such an annoying aspect of adulthood! We KNOW so often what the right course of action is yet we want to ignore that annoying voice SO bad.
Bo: When we knew Bo back in the 90’s she was a side character. Her relationship with Woody didn’t matter all that much, and she was pretty one-dimensional. We get a glimpse of that version of her at the beginning of the film during the storm. Under the car she and Woody have this farewell moment where both understand that their purpose is to support a child and be there for them. She is completely accepting of her fate as she’s taken away. Nine years later? NOT SO MUCH.
This Bo has seen some s***. You could say that the previous version of her was naive to the world and its possibilities. Only after going to a new home for a couple years, then once again being tossed out to end up in the antique store, does she decide as said in the movie, “I stopped waiting for life to happen to me.” She figured out that she could be her own person (toy?).
Hear me out now! To me, she represented a woman that was done buying into the BS that the only route to happiness is through a partner. She found that there could be just as much, if not more, satisfaction from finding contentment with yourself!
There’s a moment in the alley where Woody (more on him in a minute) is having a fit because Forky did not escape with them. He doesn’t see his friends are messed up because the only thing that matters is Forky–because it’s what matters to Bonnie. Bo asks him, “so the rest of us don’t count?” For me I heard all those people that, like Bo, are trying to find/have found happiness for themselves, and that love of friends can be just as if not more powerful than the love of “the one.”
Speaking of “the one”…
Gabby Gabby: What a difficult character to get down! I was expecting her to go nuts to do anything possible to get that voice box! I was expecting a psychotic villain! Nope. Just a toy sincerely wanting to be loved. Aaaaaand once again we have the metaphor.
Gabby has all the ingredients for a “psycho.” She’s obsessed with Harmony (good choice of name considering Gabby believes this little girl is her one and only chance for completion) and she is willing to go to lengths to make herself “perfect” in order to gain the attention of the object of her affection. The thing is, she gets Woody’s voice box, finally gets Harmony’s attention, but the little girl doesn’t care. She chucks her in the crate.
I saw it coming, but still, such an important moment; you can make yourself as close to perfect as much as you want but the people/person who is going to want you will do so because you are you. It applies the same as Bonnie preferring to play with Forky, who is a poorly constructed toy made from a plastic utensil, over Woody; it isn’t about what it looks like but the experience. That’s what makes love special.
In the crate Woody tries to rally Gabby and she’s in a hole of depression. This is the moment that almost choked me up. It was like a new layer to the scene from Toy Story 2 where Jessie reflects on her time with her old owner. Gabby has spent so much time and energy thinking about her chance with Harmony that she never stopped to consider that there were other possibilities out there! Woody gave her hope with Bonnie but on the way Gabby saw another little girl vulnerable and in need. I wanted Gabby to end up with Bonnie, but I was glad they chose to resolve her as they did with the lost child. It goes to show that even when you’re in pursuit of the next thing, life can surprise you with something equal if not better.
Woody: My thing with this being the fourth film in the franchise is that the formula feels just a LITTLE old. The four films have generally followed the same schematic; toy gets lost and there’s a mission to rescue them. Buzz-Sid. Woody-Al’s Toy Barn. the gang- day care. Lastly, Forky- Antique store. This was the mild complaint I had about the film- it’s more a nitpick if you will. What I felt saved the movie from feeling completely episodic was the conclusion.
As Woody is ready to go back with the rest of the toys, Buzz reassures him that she is going to be Ok. Woody thinks he’s talking about Bo but his old friend clarifies that he’s talking about Bonnie. Then the film becomes clear. There was one final story to tell in the franchise after all and it was this one; Woody’s retirement.
Woody spent the film clearly frustrated because he still believed in the message that he and Bo discussed under the car; he believed that absolutely nothing was more important to a toy than their kid. Again, I saw this as part of the greater metaphor- Sometimes we get so white-knuckled to a situation or a relationship even though it has been over for a while. We can’t see the next good thing standing right in front of us! Woody went through what we ALL do; when one thing has clearly ended and we don’t yet know it consciously we can spiral into some nonsense. Sometimes we SEE the next chapter and STILL we cling to what we THINK is our happiness or deny what’s next because it’s unfamiliar. In the end, the film earned it’s place in the Toy Story saga by bringing Woody to a very happy close.
Honestly, I wanted all the toys to ditch Bonnie. I know! That’s terrible! But Bo looks like she has a solid life and living for kids just means you lose your toy-family at random times! If Rex, the potato-heads, pig, Slink, Jessie, Buzz, and the aliens stayed WITH Woody and Bo THEN it would have been the perfect end for me. You would know that what happened at the beginning of the film would never happen long after it ended.
Well, is it my favorite in the series? Nope. The original I think will always hold that trophy. But, it is a VERY good installment and a perfect way to close the series. Toy Story 4 you came to teach the importance of letting go! Now, Pixar, please let these toys go.
I give the film 3.5/5 Potatoes.