‘Toy Story 4’ review: Liberation stories
Who would’ve thought that the ludicrous conceit of toys coming to life when humans aren’t looking would result in delightful tales that prescribe very human dilemmas and emotions to supposedly inanimate objects. As a collection, the series showcases a complex universe of sentient beings acknowledging their servile roles to children.
The first three entries managed to veil the existential crises of the characters, linking their compelling emotions with separation, obsolescence or inutility but never questioning their purpose as toys that will always be loyal to their children. Josh Cooley’s Toy Story 4 throws a subtle curveball, introducing Forky (Tony Hale), a makeshift toy (Madeleine McGraw) who struggles to acknowledge that he is no longer trash and now has the purpose of providing joy to his creator.
In a sense, the film opens the film’s universe to an idea that there is something more to these beloved toys than being just toys.
Toy Story 4, beyond all the vastly enjoyable but now routine escapades where Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and the gang perform outrageous stunts in solidarity with their fellow toys, is a collection of liberation stories.
Years after the last film, Woody and his gang have been turned over by Andy, who has outgrown playing with toys, to Bonnie, a little girl who prefers her sheriff to be female than male. Woody is often left in the closet, collecting dust like all the other toys that have unfortunately been neglected.
Woody still puts it upon himself to make sure Bonnie is happy, making it a mission to inculcate upon Forky that he is a toy for Bonnie. While struggling to make Forky believe his newfound role while Bonnie and his family are on a roadtrip, the two toys are separated from the gang, finding themselves in an antique store where they will eventually meet lost friends and new acquaintances.
Reiterates the delights
On paper, it definitely seems that Toy Story 4 only reiterates the delights of its predecessors, launching its well-regarded characters in another adventure that plunges the viewers into a sea of childhood nostalgia while teaching them heartfelt lessons about the value of friendship, loyalty, and love.
However, the film feels greatly different, starting with stark emotions of separation, rejection and replacement, almost foreshadowing a necessity for the characters not just to grow up like their masters but to evolve beyond the roles that humanity has created for them. Trash becomes toy. Toy becomes trash. Heck, in one scene, the toys finally expose their hidden capabilities, and are heard enough to instruct humans where to drive. In the world of Toy Story 4, the toys are seeing that there is more to their existence than as mere playthings who will be loved then abandoned, loved then abandoned, ad infinitum.
Toy Story 4 is the fitting end to a series that has become so preoccupied with characters that are inexplicably chained to their jobs and their roles.
The film, without hardly a whiff of inappropriate irony or sarcasm, seamlessly leads the story of Woody towards a conclusion where the character’s fulfilment isn’t reliant on an existence of perpetual subjugation. In a world where bonds, roles and stereotypes are being broken, the film’s fervent preoccupation with characters realizing that there is more beyond what they originally perceived as their purpose of being feels timely and relevant.
To infinity and beyond
“To infinity and beyond.” The tagline has never been as resonant as when Buzz said with such finality in Toy Story 4. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.