Back in 2010 when Toy Story 3 was released, almost everyone believed that this epic tale was finally coming to a conclusion. When seeing Andy hand off his childhood toys to Bonnie most fans, while most likely in tears, are beginning to see the perfect conclusion to the saga. Andy moving onto the next stage of his life, with Woody, Buzz and the gang having a new and caring owner seemed like the perfect end to their incredible journey. Who would have thought following Toy Story 3 that not only could their be a better ending to the saga, but that Disney, and Pixar could actually improve upon the previous three installments.
Director Josh Cooley begins Toy Story 4 by flipping the script in which we learn that Woody isn’t one of Bonnie’s favorite toys. The beginning of the journey also shows Bonnie having a difficult time adapting to Kindergarten. When Woody sneaks into Bonnie’s bag one day to help her get through school, Bonnie comes home with a new toy of her creation, Forky. Being one of Bonnie’s toys, Forky comes to life just like any other toy. This new concept thrown into the franchise of making trash a toy, which is a common activity among children, was a well thought out change for the better. Voiced by Tony Hale, Forky is one of the many amazing additions to the legendary story.
Long story short, Woody has to save Forky, and bring him back to Bonnie at the RV park they stop at. Throughout his journey, Woody meets characters like Ducky and Bunny, Duke Caboom, Gabby Gabby, and his long lost friend Bo Peep. These new characters, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, and Keanu Reeves are all great additions to the franchise, but their impact goes further than just creating some laughs. Throughout this journey in Toy Story 4, Woody questions what the role of a toy really is, especially when Bonnie doesn’t have the same love for him as Andy once did. Although we were left with the conclusion of Andy’s path in this journey, Toy Story 3 didn’t give us any closure on Woody’s feelings of Andy leaving.
At its conclusion, we see Woody make the huge leap to embracing the idea of being a “lost toy,” leaving Buzz and the rest of the gang to be with Bo Peep at the carnival. In this moment we see Woody finally be satisfied with his life accomplishment of being Andy’s favorite toy, and see him move onto the next stage of his life as a lost toy. There is an accumulation of events throughout the movie that leads Woody to this final moment of realization that every toy deserves to have the opportunity to have “a kid” like Andy. From helping Gabby Gabby, to all of the toys who are stuck as prizes at the carnival, who Woody and Bo help find owners in the end credit scene, we see a change in Woody’s mentality from the previous films. We usually see the films conclude with Woody bringing back lost toys to his owner, but instead of bringing them back to Bonnie, we finally see Woody put other toys’ needs over his own of being loyal to his owner.
There are many lessons to be learned in Toy Story 4, but Woody’s conclusion to the journey is what really makes the ending to the film special. We see Woody begin the next stage of his life which we, along with the rest of the toys, may know nothing about. This is similar to the way in which Andy left in Toy Story 3, leaving Woody to know nothing about who Andy will become. The way Woody’s story ends is what makes Toy Story 4 the ultimate conclusion to this extraordinary journey we’ve all had the pleasure of witnessing.