Toy Story 4

Jun 20, 2019

One franchise this grumpy critic hopes will never end.

Toy Story 4

Grade: A

Director: Josh Cooley

Screenplay: Andrew Stanton (Finding Dory), Stephany Folsom (Missing You)

Cast: Tom Hanks (Saving Private Ryan), Keanu Reeves (John Wick)

Rating: G

Runtime: 1 hr 40 min

By: John DeSando

“I was made to help a child, I don't remember it being this hard.” Woody (Tom Hanks voice)

Joy, sorrow, laughter, tears, love, and loyalty—those words may describe Casablanca, but right now I’m thinking Toy Story 4. Who would have thought an animation could compete with that classic romance? Who would have thought one animated frame could show more humanity than those in all the summer blockbusters? Who would have thought after the triumph of 3 that 4 would be just as good?

Pixar and director John Cooley (a Pixar operative with his directorial debut), together with writers Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom, have crafted yet another brilliant story of little people overcoming the crush of cretinous big people to save their pleasant roles as support for kids and strengthen their bonds as buddies. No better example than cowboy Woody and astronaut Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), whose initial Toy Story 1 dislike for each other has grown to a lively mature friendship three iterations later. 

Woody’s growth is the heart of an uproarious adventure with the lovely Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who is the best strong female to occupy the screen in a long time. The two are sweet on each other but subsume that affection to the tasks of saving kids and toys from disconnection.

Moreover, they have to deal with a new character, Forky (Tony Hale), a beautiful piece of trash with pipe-stem arms and disproportionate eyes, who forces friendship decisions and affections that help determine the maturity of lead characters. In addition, the carnival setting with a carousel and second-hand antique shop among other props helps to mix the joy of toydom and the danger of a rambunctious world without rules.

And so it goes, turning not so much this time on finding home as finding love. Every family member should fully appreciate the humanity of that arc and listen to its abundant life lessons..   

You know Avenger’s: Endgame is a change agent for a successful franchise. Don’t miss the summer’s even better revolution: Toy Story 4. I hope Pixar itself doesn’t change this monumental animation by ending it.

“Some kids play rougher than others.” “You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen.” Bo Peep

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at