After a nine year break from one of Disney/Pixar’s most beloved crews of characters, the Toy Story gang hits theatres again with the fourth instalment in the series.
From its original premiere in 1995 to the second and third films released over a 15-year period, the Toy Story franchise has been able to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of creating subsequent movies that audiences enjoy just as much, if not more, than the original.
This is a pattern that doesn’t waver with Toy Story 4.
The premise of the new film is focused on Woody (Tom Hanks) helping new Toy Story character Forky, played by Tony Hale, join the rest of the toys and embrace his new life as Bonnie’s favourite toy.
“They pitched it to me as he's a spork who has a neurotic energy...they were like, we thought of you, and I was like, perfect,” Hale told Yahoo Canada. “He's kind of gullible, he asks a lot of questions and I don't know, he just kind of sees the world with new eyes.”
Director Josh Cooley was able to seamlessly introduce Forky into the cast in a way that brings you back to your childhood, a time when even the most simple items and craft projects gave you comfort, joy and entertainment.
Forky also gets you in touch with your emotions as a character who thinks he’s “trash,” but the audience sees this little spork is so loveable and much more important.
“I think what really warms my heart about my storyline is...here's a character who comes into the world and his sole purpose is I'm going to help people eat chilli, and then I'm going to go the trash. That's my lifeline,” Hale says. “The fact that Woody comes along and he's like, you have a greater value than that.”
Forky isn’t the only new addition to cast. Joining Woody, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the group of beloved toys is a quintessentially Canadian character played by famed Toronto-raised actor Keanu Reeves.
Duke Caboom jumps on the screen in a way that will make every Canadian instantly smile. Introduced as “Canada’s greatest stuntman,” Caboom stunt-cycles through scenes with a larger-than-life personality, full of Canadian references, and decked out in a red and white outfit with a maple leaf cape.
Aside from the new additions to the cast, fans of the franchise will get to see the lost character of Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who was missing in Toy Story 3. But Bo isn’t the same delicate toy we saw in the past, she’s returned as a tougher and more ferocious toy who is instrumental in leading Woody through the film’s adventures - now with pants as her base outfit.
The camaraderie between all the Toy Story characters is what makes these films so special, while also being executed with the utmost perfection in a series of beautifully crafted scenes.
“They're all very, very different but they still hang together,” Hale said. “I love that message of like, hey, we're not meant to do this life alone.”
Toy Story 4 runs 100 minutes long and hits Canadian theatres on June 20.