While Toy Story 4 offers a satisfying conclusion for Woody, it’s not the fitting conclusion to the franchise the way Toy Story 3 was.
At the end of Toy Story 3, the toys finally parted ways with Andy when they are given away to Bonnie after Andy leaves for college. Bonnie, who is nervous about starting kindergarten, ‘makes’ a new friend at school, by creating a toy out of a plastic spork and some lollipop sticks. Forky, as he is cutely christened, suffers an existential crisis after his transformation from trash to toy, which leads to a slew of funny moments. It’s not just Forky who has existential questions, but Woody as well, who is now questioning his purpose in his life. Woody even hypotheses about the existences of consciousness in toys, which get hilariously misinterpreted by Buzz.
Most of the regular cast is back, in addition to some new faces like the creepy Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her sinister assistants, a new duo, Bunny and Duckie (Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key), a Canadian stunt motorbike rider, Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), and Woody’s old friend Bo Peep. The core group of Andy’s toys, barring Woody and Buzz, are shunned to bit-part roles to make room for the many story arcs in the movie. We have Forky coming to terms with his existence, Woody trying to rediscover his purpose and Gabby’s ill-fated attempts to find a kid. While Woody’s exploration of loyalty, sacrifice, and purpose is brilliant and relatable, Gabby’s arc is not as intriguing as Lotso bear’s in the previous installment.
Toy Story 4 is a good movie and offers some great sequences, but it’s just not consistently inventive, funny, witty, and heartfelt like its predecessors. It also doesn’t tread new ground and will probably go down as the “least good” movie in the franchise, which incidentally is no bad thing. Toy Story 4 may have provided a satisfying conclusion for Woody, but it’s not the fitting conclusion to the franchise the way Toy Story 3 was.