After 'Toy Story 3' completely broke our hearts in 2010, no one wanted a 'Toy Story 4'. The filmmakers actually said it was the last film in the series too.
However, four years later, 'Toy Story 4' was announced and everyone thought the obvious - another ploy by Disney to make a quick buck. Now it has emerged since that the idea for the fourth film was there around the time of the trequel. Andrew Stanton, one of the writers, who’s worked on all the 'Toy Story' films, started the outline for it while 3 was still finishing.
Fans remained worried that it wasn't going to work. After all, it's been nearly a decade since we last saw Woody and the gang (though there was 20 years between 'The Incredibles' and 'Incredibles 2'). More to the point, the ending to 'Toy Story 3' was just sooo perfect. Why couldn't they just leave it be?
Without getting into spoiler territory, this is what we believe is the best way to approach the supposed (though we really think it is) last hurrah of the franchise.
'Toy Story 3' as the perfect ending - almost
As any Pixar and 'Toy Story' fan knows, the impact of 'Toy Story 3' came two-fold. First, there was that scene in the incinerator when we really thought the toys were going to die. Would it have been the greatest animated movie ending and the biggest gamble Disney has ever taken to date? Yes. Would it have been depressing AF? Also yes. So just as well the toys survived in a neat throwback to the original 'Toy Story'.
Then there was the passing of the toys from Andy to Bonnie. At the beginning of 'Toy Story 3', the toys talk about desperately wanting to be played with again. And so this final game with Andy means the world to them. It's an emotional moment for Andy too as he lets go as the last connections to his childhood and heads to college. (We can't guarantee you won't be crying over your phone/computer as you watch the scene below).
But it's worth taking in the build-up to that moment. Woody was meant to go to college with Andy. The toys were going to the attic. However Woody, knowing the toys would be happier with Bonnie, arranged it so Andy gives the toys to her. Woody also threw himself in the box with them because he felt they needed him.
It's from this point that 'Toy Story 4' kicks off - what's next for Woody? Having always put others - his owner (Andy, then Bonnie), the other toys - before himself, is it time to prioritise his own needs and wants? The filmmakers have said "the end of 3 is really the end of Andy’s story, but the story of Toy Story is Woody... Like, what do you do when you’ve done everything right and your life’s not over?" That's something to bear in mind as you're watching 'Toy Story 4'.
The downside of 'Toy Story 4'
For all the things it gets right, 'Toy Story 4' has its flaws and yes, it's not as good as 'Toy Story 3'. Anyone who has seen the promos probably knows by now that the film is jam-packed with new characters. There's Forky, a toy that Bonnie makes herself, and several new faces that the gang meets on a road trip. Keanu Reeves voices Duke Caboom, a Canadian daredevil toy. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele voice Ducky and Bunny, two carnival plush toys. A 1950s pullstring doll named Gabby-Gabby also features as does the Polly Pocket-esque Giggle McDimples.
There's also Bo Peep whose return was said to be a key inspiration to the fourth film.
With aaaalll these new characters, what ends up happening is that the gang we're used to like Jessie, Rex, Hamm, and the Potato Heads, get less of a look-in. It'll be a bit disappointing for fans but then again the point is that this is Woody's moment, the conclusion to his story. They got their happy ending - thanks to him - in '3'.
'Toy Story 4' is an epilogue because it's more emotionally satisfying to see 'Toy Story 3' as the final chapter to which 4 is an add-on. 3 packs a bigger punch and is the conclusive episode for not just Andy, but Andy's toys. 'Toy Story 4' is more of an epilogue in that it looks back on what came before (eagle-eyed fans will definitely note throwbacks to prior chapters in the series) and brings it all back to that character we started the 'Toy Story' journey with - Woody. It's the ending he deserves and we think fans will be more than happy with how it's all wrapped up.