Nearly 25 years after the first Toy Story, Woody, Buzz, and some new friends are still lighting up the silver screen. Joined by Tony Hale and Keanu Reeves–voiced toys, Andy’s old stable is either wrapping up the franchise or ushering in the beginning of a Toy Story Extended Universe. Regardless, different generations of Ringer staffers are here to give their impressions on the latest installment of a franchise that has spanned either their entire lives or just their post-college careers.
1. What is your tweet-length review of Toy Story 4?
when Forky said "i'm trash!" i FELT THAT— Andrew Gruttadaro (@andrewgrutt) June 21, 2019
David Lara: Woody, a veteran of playtime, has finally been benched for other toys and now attempts to find a new role in Bonnie’s life as a player-coach.
Donnie Kwak: Ventriloquist dolls: never not scary.
Paolo Uggetti: You’ve got a favorite sequel in me.
2. What was the best moment of the movie?
Gruttadaro: Duke Caboom’s repeated exhortations to Rajon.
Harvilla: The Ducky and Bunny assault on the antique-store lady. I’m bad with celebrity voices in cartoons, and so by then I’d clocked Key but not yet Peele; overall it’s probably my single favorite Pixar sequence since Elastigirl got stuck in all the sliding doors.
Lara: Ducky and Bunny’s plan to kill someone is the highest form of comedy in the Toy Story universe.
Kwak: Duke Caboom’s big jump in the antique store and the frantic chase scene with the cat that followed. Great set piece, perfectly executed.
Uggetti: Every time Buzz Lightyear hit the red button and called on his inner voice was perfect.
3. What was your least favorite part of the film?
Gruttadaro: Uhh, I don’t know if this is blasphemy, but I got sort of tired of Woody’s energy this time around. Not a good hang at all.
Lara: When Woody clearly leaves Combat Carl hanging! Give that toy some love!
Harvilla: The first three to five minutes, which I missed, on account of getting my kids popcorn. The sacrifices I make.
Kwak: It maybe isn’t the best message to children that Gabby Gabby didn’t find someone to cherish her until she got her voice box fixed. Kids, you’re fine just the way you are!
Uggetti: OK, I completely understand why happening upon the lost girl and Gabby Gabby’s becoming her toy was a nice finish on that story line, but I didn’t love it. Then again, I don’t know if I would have loved Gabby Gabby pole-vaulting the toy line of succession and becoming Bonnie’s, non-Forky go-to once Woody left instead of Jessie. There’s a toy hierarchy here, please respect it.
4. Who was the MVP of Toy Story 4?
Gruttadaro: Bo, the Princess Leia of the Toy Story franchise. She deserved better—Duke Caboom’s right there.
Lara: Duke Caboom because he had to put his life on the line multiple times, he gave Combat Carl his well deserved high five, and of course it’s Keanu!!!
Kwak: Bo Peep was a leader of toys and a true badass—so much so that Woody seems like a wishy-washy wet blanket. Dump him, sis!
Harvilla: Me, for getting the popcorn.
Uggetti: I want to say someone other than Woody—perhaps Bo Peep, whose character shift was awesome, or the Key- and Peele-voiced stuffed animals who were hilarious in their sketches—but it can’t be someone other than Woody. After all, it’s his story and he got to decide how and when he wanted to end it—namely, with his first-kid sweetheart next to him. It was such a storybook, Derek Jeter–like retirement, that I can pretty much hear Michael Kay’s voice shout-narrating it in my head: “No voice box, no problem! Woody is riding off into the sunset with a walk-off! Did you have any doubt?”
5. This is your safe space to discuss Forky.
Gruttadaro: Casting Tony Hale as a makeshift toy having an existential breakdown because he’s actually a plastic spork is one of the best moves this franchise has made.
Harvilla: It’s impressive how bizarre and David Lynch–ian Forky’s whole traassh thing reads to adults versus how purely silly and delightful it reads to kids, and it is for the best that I just focus on the kids’ delight and don’t think too hard about a toy rejecting its inherent toy-ness and repeatedly throwing itself in the trash. Too much ennui potential.
Lara: Forky played by Tony Hale is just Buster Bluth in spork form.
Kwak: Having grown up using them to eat coleslaw at KFC, I’ll always have a soft spot for sporks. Forky is cool with me.
Uggetti: I was always more of a drawing/coloring kid, and I was never good at making 3D crafts, so color me suspicious that Bonnie was able to craft Forky in a quick second during her orientation day at … kindergarten. In all seriousness, I loved that they introduced a kid-made toy into the equation and highlighted the power of that while keeping it hilarious. Shout-out Tony Hale for giving a perfect character the perfect voice.
6. Finish the sentence: “The humans in Toy Story 4 are …”
Harvilla: Audience surrogates; it would definitely have taken me half that movie to change the RV tire.
Gruttadaro: … blissfully ignorant.
Lara: … importantly unimportant.
Kwak: … necessary only to move the plot along.
Uggetti: … as oblivious as toddlers are in real life.
7. In retrospect, which of your childhood toys could have also functioned as nightmare fuel?
Harvilla: I never actually got the He-Man Slime Pit, but definitely that.
Gruttadaro: I had this silk bear-looking thing that, on second thought, was not very cute and was definitely kept past its prime. If it was in Toy Story it probably would’ve sounded like Mac’s mom from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Kwak: I never owned one, but Teddy Ruxpin always seemed a little sinister.
Lara: I can’t recall many toys in my life but I did lose my Woody toy at a grocery store.
8. Did Toy Story 4 make you shed tears?
Gruttadaro: Things got a bit misty when all the original toys said goodbye to Woody, but other than that I may be dead inside.
Kwak: No, but I laughed a lot.
Lara: Almost! I had to suck that tear back in like Earl Devereaux in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs when I saw Gabby Gabby get a Mutombo-like rejection from the little girl.
Uggetti: No, because I am a spork without hands, eyes, feet, and a mouth, and thus have no emotions. The closest it got to unlocking my tear ducts was Woody’s goodbye hug with Buzz.
Harvilla: Does Lots-o’ Bear shit in the woods?
9. Is this the end for Toy Story?
Gruttadaro: Yes—it’s a send-off for Woody, Pixar promised to stop making so many sequels, and the movie made less than it was supposed to. It’s time for a new franchise.
Lara: I want it to be, since Woody’s arc has come to a close but money talks, so give me Toy Story 5 in 10 years set in the world of Mad Max: Fury Road.
Kwak: I wouldn’t mind a fifth movie set in the future when Woody and Co. have been rendered all but obsolete by a new breed of AI-driven toys. Call up Charlie Brooker—he’ll have an idea.
Uggetti: The Toy Story franchise has spanned my life. Literally. The first movie came out in 1995, six months after I was born, and I can’t think of another movie, alongside Toy Story 2 which came out four years after, that I watched more often as a kid growing up. The third iteration was a nostalgia play that worked, and the fourth was somehow better? I don’t understand how they keep nailing these movies, but if they decide to continue making them, you will be able to catch me lining up for the premiere of Toy Story 8 when I’m 48.
Harvilla: The whole fake-GPS scene is the first time I can remember the human characters repeatedly hearing the actual voice of a toy character; the only place left for this series to go is a Fleabag sort of thing in which the humans start noticing how odd the toys are acting. Probably they shouldn’t do this; probably this movie won’t make enough hundreds of millions of dollars to convince Tom Hanks to even try. It’s for the best, integrity-wise and ennui-wise.