Friday, June 21, 2019

Here's to telling one more good 'Story' with a cowboy, a lady and a spork

Hey, gang, "Toy Story 4," gets very trashy along its otherwise merry way. I mean, the main new character keeps trying to jump into waste baskets and amusement park rubbish containers in an attempt to escape back from whence it came. And, that likely becomes even more difficult than the Disney decision to resurrect the popular and ultra-successful franchise after nine years, another Best Animated Feature Oscar for "TS3," and an understanding that "3" would be the last "Story" ever told.

Woody, Buzz, Jessie and newfound Forky fly high and wild in another good 'Story."
Today, along comes the newbie called "Forky," certainly destined for commercial greatness of his own, not to mention instigating a wide assortment of laughs. (Take it from someone who has visited the famous Pixar Studios twice over many years, the jokes about that name, as concocted by the very wise guys and gals working there, must have been legendary.)

Here, the simple character is put together by kindergartner-to-be Bonnie, the young neighbor to Andy, the "kid" who belonged to Cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack), Mr. Potato Head (the late, forever great Don Rickles) and all the rest of those picture-perfect pals from the first three films. If you're keeping up, you already recall that Andy left the toys with Bonnie upon leaving for college -- with a little help and wisdom from Woody, of course.

Now, the courageous cowboy gives the apprehensive little girl a big hand, too, by sneaking his way into a school orientation session and nudging Bonnie into making something out of the nothings he finds in a container of throwaway items. Mainly, those would include spork, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, etc. Voila! Forky (voiced by Tony Hale from "Veep") is born!

The trick then becomes keeping tabs on the crazy character -- and what easily might be called his suicidal tendencies -- as well as the fickle "kid" that Woody and the rest of the playmates join on a frenetic family vacation. Most of it produces big fun and a nice share of separation anxiety, especially in early moments when parents and inanimate objects worry over a child heading off to school for the first time.

More comes later, when Woody, et al reunite with the worldly Little Bo Peep (not seen since "TS2," but still with Annie Potts providing vocals). She helps them discover a unique load of carnival friends, including daredevil Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) and stuffed animals Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele).

Antigue store newcomers named Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and Vincent, a voiceless puppet with some creepy-crawly tendencies, add a little spookiness to the mix, too. Otherwise, in following three early "TS" films, there's not much in "4" we haven't seen before.

However, with its constantly smart humor (from eight credited screenwriters), a few more unexpected vocal cameos, and the franchise's ever-evident emotion, recycling never has felt so fresh.

Rated "G": 1:40; $ $ $ $ out of $5

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