Why TOY STORY 4 Is One of the Most Pro-Family Movies Available Right Now
Editor’s Note: TOY STORY 4 is now available on DVD. Before you rent or buy the movie, read a portion of our review below. For the full review, including a breakdown of violence, sexual content, nudity, and language, click here.
TOY STORY 4 is another breakthrough in great computer animation, and even greater storytelling. Filled with laughter, tears, thrills, and romance, slightly mixed with a few light scary elements.
The movie opens with a flashback to nine years earlier when during a heavy rainstorm, Woody and Andy’s toys are trying to save one of the toys from being washed down the gutter. In the process Woody finds out there’s a box of toys being given away. Woody looks in the box and finds out Bo Peep is one of them. It’s clear that they both have feelings for each other.
The story moves forward to Andy giving away the rest of the toys to Bonnie; and then, much later Bonnie’s fear of going to kindergarten. While everyone says Bonnie will be okay, Woody knows he has to take care of Bonnie. So, he sneaks into her lunch bag. Then, when she’s in her first day of orientation for kindergarten and supposed to do an art project, a little boy takes all the crayons and art project equipment. Bonnie starts crying, but Woody finds discarded art project stuff and a spork in the trash can. Bonnie uses the different art project elements to create Forky. She loves Forky, and the teacher is impressed. However, Forky thinks he’s trash and keeps jumping into the trash can, but Woody keeps saving him because Forky has to learn he’s supposed to take care of Bonnie.
When Bonnie’s family goes on a one-week summer vacation in an RV between the orientation and the start of kindergarten, Forky tries to run away and go into the garbage, which he says is a safe, dark, comfortable place. Woody jumps out of the RV to rescue Forky and slowly helps Forky understand that toys must be responsible for their child and that Bonnie created Forky. Therefore, toys must be loyal to the child who plays with them.
Trying to catch up with the RV where the parents park near a small carnival, Woody and Forky pass an antique shop. Woody thinks he sees Bo Peep’s lamp inside the shop. He goes into the antique shop with Forky and some very scary ventriloquist dolls try to capture them both. A doll with a bad voice box, Gabby Gabby, tries to take Woody’s voice box by force. This results in some scary moments where Woody escapes, but Forky is captured.
Gabby Gabby and the ventriloquist dolls hold Forky hostage. Woody leaves to get help and finds Bo Peep and other friends who are living the adventure of an independent life and riding around inside a racecar disguised as a skunk.
Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear, who had asked Woody how he knows what to do in tough situations, found out from Woody that Woody listens to his inner voice, which Woody says is his conscience and which is symbolized by his pull string voice commands. Buzz Lightyear starts pushing his voice box button because Woody’s been gone so long, and it tells him to go toward the battle, so Buzz jumps out of the RV to search for Woody. In the process, he gets captured by a carnival operator who ties him against the backboard of one of those shooting ranges where children shoot ping pong balls to get prizes, but the game is rigged so that no one ever wins.
Two plush toys want to get out and are upset that Buzz is in the prime position. They try to get rid of Buzz, and instead they all escape. Buzz listens to his inner voice to find Bo Peep and ends up in the antique store. Mayhem ensues. Can they rescue Forky? Will Woody find Bo Peep? How they can get out of these intractable problems?
There are some very funny scenes in TOY STORY 4. TOY STORY 4 also has some incredible pro-family, pro-redemption, pro-self-sacrifice messages, in a very exciting, entertaining story. The importance of toys taking care of children is stressed constantly, but there’s also the importance of maturing and finding real love with good positive, male/female monogamous relationships being the goals. Every character has a great character arc, with a couple characters experiencing an epiphany and being truly transformed. It would be hard to find a better story. Everyone fulfills the purpose for which they were designed. For instance, when Forky asks, “Who gave me life?” Woody says he doesn’t know about that, but he knows that each toy has a purpose. Also, one character learns to get over his fear and become the stuntman he was meant to be, even with all his flaws. TOY STORY 4 will capture your heart.
The problem is, however, is that there are some pretty scary scenes. The ventriloquist puppets look pretty scary at times, and some of the situations are frightening. None of them are beyond what you see in a Saturday morning cartoon, but please be careful about the sensitivity of your children. Also, Bo Peep in her independent years, that were forced on her when she was given away, wears trousers, but when she gets together with Woody she starts wearing a dress again.
That said, TOY STORY 4 is a great movie for children of all ages, especially older children, but may be too strong for very young children.