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‘Toy Story 4’: You’re gonna want to bring some tissues

Movies

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Let’s get this out of the way first: “Toy Story 4” is an absolute tear-jerker. If you have any connection to these characters at all, you will be in tears by the end of this movie. But they will be those awesome happy/sad tears and there’s nothing wrong with a good cry every now and then.

“Toy Story 4” picks the story up a few years after the events of the last movie, with Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and company having become an integral part of their new owner, Bonnie’s, life. When Bonnie built a new toy, Forky (Tony Hale), to deal with her first day of kindergarten, Woody takes it upon himself to make sure nothing happens to Forky.

Unfortunately, Forky doesn’t want to cooperate and soon he tries to escape, dragging Woody off on an adventure and getting them captured by the creepy Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her mob of dummies. It’ll take all of Buzz and company’s best efforts, plus a little help from ultra-skilled Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and daredevil Duke Caboom (Keanu Reaves), to rescue Woody and Forky.

I felt that “Toy Story 3” took the franchise storyline to its obvious conclusion. But “TS4” justifies its existence by telling a thematically rich story that’s full of heart and lovable characters. That’s nothing new in the “Toy Story” universe, but it is something we don’t get nearly often enough from the average big Hollywood franchises.

We also don’t get characters as beloved as Woody and Buzz very often. Watching what “TS4” does with their development, especially Woody’s arc, only makes you love them more. Woody has some pretty complex stuff going on in his head throughout this film, and that contributes to its themes of fear of loss and letting go.

Buzz also gets a fun arc involving embracing your inner voice. Watching him mature in “TS4” is unexpectedly moving. As always, Hanks and Allen are fantastic in their roles.

Add to that, the bevy of new characters that keep things fresh and fun. Gabby Gabby goes through a fairly predictable arc, but Hendricks also makes her deliciously creepy. Duke Caboom gets a lot of laughs and Reeves is perfect in the role. Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele are a blast as Ducky and Bunny respectively.

But the best part of this movie is the writing. The screenwriters, Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom, have condensed input from many other sources down into a story that is equal parts funny, action-packed and moving. The characters have plenty of depth and development. The writers don’t do anything super surprising, but the writing is rock solid and totally supports the weight of the plot.

And then there’s that ending. I don’t wanna spoil anything, but it’s basically the perfect cocktail of emotionally moving, pitch-perfect acting and animation and character development. Just try to sit through this ending without tearing up. It’s just absolutely beautiful.

I wasn’t convinced we needed a fourth “Toy Story” movie, but the good folks at Pixar have changed my mind. “Toy Story 4” is genuinely moving, beautifully animated, and will make you love the preceding movies even more. Just make sure you have some tissues at the ready. You’re going to need them.

4 ½ Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: G

Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.

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