Toy Story 4: First Reviews and Sneak Peeks

With Toy Story 4‘s release quickly approaching, special preview screenings are starting to be shown around the world – and with these, the first real pieces of information about the story are showing up online, as well.

An event in Spain was one of the most recent, and from it has come the first full online review of the film.  Shared on the entertainment site Fotogramas, it was published in Spanish, and translated thanks to Google.  This review doesn’t really give away any spoilers, so I’ll share some of the thoughts expressed (in roughly translated form):

With ‘Toy Story 4’, what remains to be said after such a perfect closing?  Easy.  In that new way of life created that is maturity (in the saga, the change of hands of toys, from Andy to Bonnie), it is the moment when old friends return, and we face life in general, new challenges, to expand our vision of the world.  And that is precisely what ‘Toy Story 4’ offers us.

We have already expected – with the road trip taking the toys to new places away from home – that Toy Story 4 would expand on the toys’ established world.  The article then goes on to discuss some of the characters we already know about.  It mentions that Bo Peep is “not the innocent shepherdess that Woody once knew” and has changed a lot – which will “test Woody’s calm and safe way of life.”  According to the author, Woody will be the talk of the movie.  He also mentions Forky, and that his introduction will help us “understand how toys are born, how they come to life,”  as well as his character offering an “incredible different way of seeing everything.”

The article then goes on to address (and debunk) the critics who have called the film “unnecessary” since it was first announced:

As we have seen in the first, ‘Toy Story 4’ clears the fears we had about this new release, which we all thought was unnecessary.  Pixar still has something to tell in the life of Woody and company.  The humor is still intact (especially thanks to Forky and the new characters Bunny and Ducky), the voices work perfectly (Keanu Reeves is perfect), references to film classics are still present (attention to a character very similar to Norma’s Desmond in ‘The twilight of the gods’) and emotion, as always, to the surface, with a heartbreaking beginning that prepares us for what is to come.

Another surprising element is the quality of the animation, which has reached stratospheric levels in this new release.  So relax, Pixar knows what it does, and this fourth installment will show us once again.

Here we have a tease of another new character, one that references Norma Desmond, the lead character in the classic film Sunset Boulevard.  I’m familiar with the gist of this movie – about a fading silent-film star who wants to regain her celebrity – but I’ve never watched it, so I definitely will be soon, to be prepared for this reference.   Also, the mention of the “heartbreaking beginning” hearkens back to Laurie Metcalf’s mention of the flashback scene she recorded dialogue for, where we’ll see what exactly happened to Bo Peep when she left Andy’s house.

I love that the author himself made the last line bold for emphasis.  Relax, Pixar knows what it’s doing. This positive reaction to the previews isn’t restricted to just this one person, either.  Tweets from others who have seen early screenings echo his sentiments (click on each tweet to access Twitter and translation options):

It’s reassuring and reaffirming to hear such uniformly glowing reports about Toy Story 4, from those who’ve gotten to see it early.  I’ve always been excited about this film – I’ve always had faith in Pixar’s vision, and zero patience for the haters and trolls online – and I hope that soon the naysayers will be convinced that it’s most definitely a necessary and worthwhile story to tell.

If you don’t want to know any potential plot details for toy story 4, stop reading here! 

A couple weeks ago (while I was on vacation) those in attendance at Disney’s annual shareholder meeting were also treated to a sneak peek of the movie.  Scott Ladewig, who was fortunate to be present and see the footage, shared his recap in a thread on Twitter  Since these tweets go too far back in his history for me to be able to show them here (technical difficulties!), I’ll quote what he said:

Toy Story 4… Bonnie makes Forky at school, Woody introduces him to everyone. They go on a road trip in a RV, Forky escapes because he wants to be a spork not a toy. Woody and Buzz go after him.

Woody spots Bo in an antique shop, he goes in, creepy doll in baby carriage says he can’t leave and sends super creepy ventriloquist dummies after Woody and Bo.  Bo very much in Rey the scavenger mode; taking control of situation.

Woody seems to be torn between making Bonnie happy as a toy and staying with Bo at carnival (?): Woody explains to Forky in a scene walking down road that he can bring happiness to Bonnie; he’s her favorite too; that’s what gives him life.  Buzz and others go to bring Woody back.

Also a quick scene showing Ken with a horseshoe moustache.

It’s not clear if it was the previously-rated trailer that was shown (which seems most likely), or an unrelated series of clips from the movie.  I was skeptical at first about this info, since so many false leaks have come out (that I have not shared due to lack of credibility), but it’s been widely regarded as legitimate – and it’s nice to have some more specific details about what was going on.

Obviously, “Ken with a mustache” isn’t Ken at all, but Duke Caboom.  And it’s likely that the “creepy doll in a baby carriage” could be Gabby Gabby.  But this is the first we’ve heard of the ventriloquist dummy character(s), which have been seen in leaked images of minifigs circulating online.

More such reviews and recaps will be appearing soon, as more press events happen internationally.  And hopefully we’ll get our own look at the Toy Story 4 trailer before too much longer – which is so far the longest Pixar’s ever made us wait for the first trailer of one of their feature films.  I still have a few more bits of news to catch up on, too, so keep an eye on the blog for more updates!

Film images © Disney/Pixar.  Shareholder certificate image © The Walt Disney Company.