Pixar’s eclectic group of toys has returned to the big screen with another adventure of self reflection and humility.
Written by original Toy Story creators Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter, and directed by newcomer Josh Cooley, the result is a stunning mix of visual splendour and nuanced storytelling.
Fans of the franchise will celebrate the return of Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), Jesse (Joan Cusack), Mr and Mrs Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris) and the rest of Andy’s toys.
But there are plenty of cameos too, and it’s half the fun of watching a Pixar film trying to pick them all. The sublime Annie Potts returns as Bo-Peep, Christina Hendricks joins the cast as Gabby-Gabby, and man-of-the-moment Keanu Reeves steals the show as Canadian stuntman Duke Kaboom.
Watching Woody help newcomer Forky (Tony Hale) navigate life as the new toy in the box, we see through Woody’s eyes as he questions what our true worth is to others and where we belong in this world. It’s a theme Toy Story has mined before, yet it doesn’t feel cheap or reheated.
Composer Randy Newman also finds his way back into the Toy Story universe, once again providing its soundtrack. While not as memorable as the first film’s score, the finale is a brilliant example of Newman’s talents and compliments the heart-wrenching work of Hanks, Allen, Potts and Co.
With new characters comes new adventures and new stories to tell. Whether the franchise will carry on has yet to be announced by Pixar or Disney. But with the quality of writing, film making and voice work at such a high level with this fourth instalment, it’s not time for Pixar to pack the toys away just yet.
9 out of 10.