There was a lot of sturm and drang at Pixar before they committed to making Toy Story 2, afraid their golden child might be ruined by a lackluster sequel. Not to worry, it was charming and a box office hit. They wisely waited until they had the exact story to tell for Toy Story 3, a film who’s ending never fails to elicit a tear or two for my long-ago childhood.
At first, we were dealing with Woody (Tom Hanks) coming to grips with his human, Andy, seeming to prefer the new, shiny Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). Then there was a little matter of Andy aging out and what that meant for the toys. They’re meant to be cherished, not neglected, so the passing of them to Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) was a perfect touch.
But Bonnie is not Andy and her tastes are her own. She’s younger, of almost an entirely different generation, and Woody is left to wonder what is his role today? These existential issues are nicely played from beginning to end in the charming Toy Story 4, out now on disc from Disney Home Entertainment.
Bonnie is ready for school and Woody, always looking after the toys and his human, feels a responsibility to be there for her. No need, it turns out, as her kindergarten orientation gave her the opportunity to create her own toy, turning an ordinary spork into her new playmate, Forky (Tony Hale). Its problem is that Forky believes it was meant to be used once and disposed of, not loved. Once again, Woody feels responsible for keeping Forky from suicide and ruining Bonnie’s budding school career.
When the family goes on a road trip, things get complicated as a visit to an antique store introduces Woody to Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), a girl’s doll created with a defective voice box and relegated to a shelf. She and her Jerry Mahoney-like dummies sweet-talk and entrap Woody, in order to obtain the thing she feels would make her desirable. Forky winds up a hostage so it’s Woody to the rescue, aided by Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who vanished years before and wound up in the store, a toughened go-it-alone figure.
Some of the action sequences in first-time director Josh Cooley’s hands are overdone at the expense of the menagerie of toys having anything useful to do. Instead, the thematic focus is entirely on Woody and his place in this strange new world. He does what he does and along the way, recognizes its time for the next chapter of his life. The ending makes sense and works emotionally even if we take our sweet time getting there.
The film has been released in a variety of formats including a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD code combo pack. The 1080p high definition transfer captures the colors nicely and we can marvel at how far the CGI animation has come since the first film (1995). The Blu-ray defaults to the DTS-HD HR 5.1 audio track although you can easily upgrade to the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. Both sound just fine, if not perfect.
The combo pack comes with two Blu-ray discs with Special Features on both. The first, with the film, also offers up Bo Rebooted (6:21); Toy Stories (5:38) as cast and crew reminisce; and Audio Commentary with Cooley and Producer Mark Nielsen. The second disc contains Let’s Ride with Ally Maki (5:41), the voice of Giggle McDimples, goes in the recording process; Woody & Buzz (3:35); Anatomy of a Scene: Playground (9:31); Carnival Run (1:00); View from the Roof (0:29); Toy Box (13:00), introducing Gabby Gabby, the Vincent dummies, Forky, Duke Caboom, Ducky & Bunny, and Giggle McDimples; Deleted Scenes (28:00), Introduction, Scamming Playtime, Bo Knows Hippos, Desperate Toys, Knock-Offs, Recruit Duke, and She’s the One.