Toy Story 4: What We REALLY Know, Post-Rewrite

I can’t help but notice that now that the first trailers are out, and Toy Story 4 is back in the spotlight, there seems to be a lot of confusion and misinformation circulating about the current plot and where things stand.  It’s been ages since I did a recap post – considering we’ve heard nothing from Pixar for such a long time – so I figured it would be helpful to summarize what we actually know about the movie as of right now.

Release Date

Toy Story 4‘s official U. S. release date of June 21, 2019 was set back in October 2016, after being pushed back twice from initial 2017 and 2018 releases.  I sincerely hope that the presence of two teaser trailers will now finally silence the gloom-and-doom articles surmising that the sequel would never happen, due to John Lasseter’s departure and other factors.  It’s very much happening, and it looks fantastic!

Plot and Setting

We also now have an official synopsis from Pixar, included with the trailer on November 12:

Woody has always been confident about his place in the world and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie.  But when Bonnie adds a reluctant new toy called “Forky” to her room, a road trip adventure alongside old and new friends will show Woody how big the world can be for a toy.  Directed by Josh Cooley (“Riley’s First Date?”) and produced by Jonas Rivera (“Inside Out,” “Up”) and Mark Nielsen (associate producer “Inside Out”), Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” ventures to U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019.

Stephany Folsom took over as screenwriter most likely sometime in 2017 – following the departure of preliminary writers Rashida Jones and Will McCormack – and her role was announced as of January this year.  From what has been shared so far, it seems that the following original elements of the story are still in place, following the rewrite of the script that took place once Folsom came on board:

  • SequelToy Story 4 will follow the toys’ lives after Toy Story 3 ended, and explore this new beginning for them, according to director Josh Cooley.  It is NOT a prequel, as some clickbait articles have tried to claim in the past.  What we don’t know is where it falls in the timeline with Toy Story of Terror and Toy Story That Time Forgot, as well as the Toy Story Toons, all of which were presumably set within roughly a year of the toys arriving at Bonnie’s (Toy Story of Terror was said to be six months later).
  • Road Trip:  The road trip aspect that was suggested by Pixar President Jim Morris all the way back in 2015 is still in effect, according to the synopsis we’ve been given.  And we know that one of the locations that the toys will visit on their journey will be a carnival, thanks to the most recent teaser.
  • Bo Peep’s Story:  Yes, Bo Peep is still in it.  There has been a lot of unfounded despair online, jumping to the conclusion that since Bo wasn’t in the first teaser, her story must have been cut from the film.  That’s not the case.  Annie Potts confirmed in June of this year that she has a large role in the sequel, and has even done some of her recording with Tom Hanks.
  • Structure:  According to Tim Allen, the movie will be comprised of a series of vignettes, in the style of Infinity War.  (He did NOT, however, suggest that any aspect of Toy Story 4‘s plot mimics the Avengers film, as many disreputable sites have since posted.)
  • Actors’ Remarks:  We’ve seen lots of comments lately from the main voice actors about the emotional nature of the film, specifically the ending.  Tim Allen has called it “hard to get through,” but also “wonderful.”  Tom Hanks referred to it as “impactful” and “a moment in history.”  Yet none of this talk of the movie’s emotional nature is new.  Back in 2015, Pixar President Jim Morris stated that he’d been “pretty choked up” from the earliest iterations of the film, dealing with Woody and Bo’s love story.  And it is Pixar, after all; haven’t we come to expect emotion by now?

Returning Characters

  • Andy’s Toys:  We know for a fact that Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Annie Potts (Bo Peep), and John Ratzenberger (Hamm) have all been in the studio recording.  We can also safely say that since Rex, Slinky, and Mrs. Potatohead are in the teaser, they’re in the movie as well – Wallace Shawn (Rex) had mentioned the sequel back in 2014, right after it had been announced around the time of Toy Story That Time Forgot‘s premiere.  Of course, the aliens, voiced by Pixarian Jeff Pidgeon, will be included – he was shown recording them during the D23 Expo animation presentation.  And I’m so happy to see that, despite the passing of Don Rickles, the presence of Mr. Potatohead in the trailer implies that his character will live on in Toy Story 4, be it through existing recordings or with a new voice actor.
  • Bonnie’s Toys:  Prior to the script shakeup, Kristen Schaal had confirmed her return as Trixie, and while she hasn’t made any mention of it recently, I think it’s safe to assume that since Toy Story 4 does pick up the story in Bonnie’s room, Bonnie’s toys will also be making a repeat appearance.
  • Sunnyside Toys:  This one is still a mystery.  Although Jodi Benson was involved with promoting the opening of Toy Story Land this past summer, we haven’t heard whether she’s reprising her role as Barbie in the upcoming film, or if any of the other daycare toys will be returning, even for just a cameo appearance.

New Characters

  • Forky:  Voiced by actor and comedian Tony Hale, Forky is a “reluctant new toy” who would rather fulfill his destiny as a fork than the toy Bonnie made him to be.
  • Ducky and Bunny:  Voiced by comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, these two plush carnival prizes will meet the toys at some point during their journey.
  • Lulu:  We don’t know much about her, other than her name and a brief glimpse of her simple doll-like appearance from the D23 Expo last summer.
  • Rumored Characters:  There were rumors in the past that Patricia Arquette was in talks to voice a “hippie mom,” but as no further mention of that has been made since 2015, it’s unclear whether that aspect of the story was scrapped with the rewrite.  There is also speculation that the action figure seen in Jack-Jack’s playpen in Incredibles 2 may be the hidden Easter egg for Toy Story 4 – which matches up with leaked information I found online concerning new characters in the film.  Considering this same leaked info referred to a “wacky” character made by a child that came to life, long before Forky was introduced, it now has more credibility in regards to the rest of the details shared – which include vintage-style toys and a girly doll as other new additions.

Merchandise

While we don’t have any finalized images of merchandise – book covers are still pending design, and toy lines are still in production – we do know of products and publications that are already underway:

  • Books:  An ever-growing list of Toy Story 4-related books is now on Amazon (also on the publishers’ sites), many with a release day of May 7, 2019.
  • Toys:  So far we have confirmation of a collection of remote control vehicles and plans for a toy line with Mattel.  More is surely in the works.

…and Beyond!

Now that Incredibles 2 has been released on home video, Toy Story 4 is Pixar’s next big thing, and we can expect updates to be more forthcoming from here on out.  Soon we will know more of the story, meet even more new characters, and finally see Bo Peep again after all these years.  We were spoiled with news two days in a row, but I’d imagine that things will pick up more consistently in a few months.  Stay tuned – we’ve got a lot to look forward to!

Images © Disney/Pixar.

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