Director: Josh Cooley
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale
Have I Seen it Before: Never. Honestly wasn’t even sure I wanted to see it. I mean, the story ended with Toy Story 3 (2010), right?
Did I Like It: I’m absolutely baffled by the realization that—without this story—the story of Sheriff Woody (Hanks) would be tragically incomplete.
I’ll do you one better than that and issue an even more bold statement about this movie:
Woody’s odyssey is the single greatest Buddhist story since Groundhog Day (1993). Think about it. Really, the Toy Story series up until this point is about being locked in a cycle of suffering. Woody and company are in danger of becoming lost. Through their own cleverness, and by defeating some kind of dark heavy (in the guise of Sid, Stinky Pete, or Lotso) are once again back in the arms of a kid, and once again left to contemplate their inevitable planned obsolescence.
It’s always thrilling and more often than not heart-warming, but it is inevitably destined to repeat itself. Even the transfer from Andy to Bonnie that got the characters a new lease on life only begins the cycle again.
It is only when Woody is able to let go of his attachments that he is able to find any sort of evergreen peace and happiness. He even let’s Buzz take the lead role with Bonnie nee Andy’s toys, a prospect that drove Woody to attempted murder in years past. It’s a profound emotional journey that would be impressive in any film, much less the fourth entry in a franchise twenty-five years old. And it is the men this time that are afforded what might have in a previous era been the more feminine emotional (or at least more sensitive) journey. Even Buzz (Allen) who gets comparatively little to do is trying to find his inner voice, paying some comedic dividends. It’s the women who are the action heroes. Even the supposed heavy in Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) isn’t thoroughly a villain and gets to enjoy the fruits of a world that was never really a zero sum game.
Instead of being an afterthought, this (now we can all say final, right?) entry in the series is perhaps the most thought-provoking animated film I’ve ever seen.
Although I’m a little miffed that my super-duper special complete toy-box blu ray collection of the first three films is going to have to find someway to get along with a copy of this movie on my shelf. A minor complaint.