Toy Story is an entertainment juggernaut for Disney. Having most recently inspired an entire "Land" at Disney theme parks, the decades long franchise gets a fresh revitalization for a new generation of fans in the digital age. Its story remains mostly the same while quirky characters and fresh locations breathe new life into the toys who came alive almost 25 years ago.
We pick up the action with Andy, the toys original owner, all grown up and moving on from his days of playing with the likes of "Buzz Lightyear" (Tim Allen; Home Improvement), and "Woody" (Tom Hanks; Cast Away). A younger child, Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw; American Sniper), is the benefactor of Andy's generosity when he donates his childhood treasures as he moves on.
As we all know, these are no ordinary toys. Coming to life when their human counterparts are not around the inanimate playthings display a range of emotions, characterization, and flaws. Woody, for his part, still clings to the old ideals that a toy should remain forever with their kid and struggles with parting from Andy for his new life with Bonnie.
On her first day of Kindergarten, Woody sneaks along for the ride having taken a reserved loyalty to his new kid. There she creates a "new friend" name Forky (Tony Hale; VEEP) during craft time from various articles she finds in the trash (including his plastic fork body). Forky becomes central to the plot with Woody realizing how much Bonnie loves Forky and trying to instill in him the same affection he once had for Andy.
The adventures continue when Bonnie's family heads off on a road trip with an antique toy store and small-town carnival providing backdrops for the continued antics of the lovable toys. A subplot of Woody reuniting and falling in love with Bo (Annie Potts, Designing Women), a toy sheepherder turned lone wolf, provides further character development for Woody as he ultimately must choose between a life of his own and that with a kid.
The rest of the supporting cast of characters returns from the previous films with little purpose other than some cute one-liners. Even Buzz Lightyear one of the more well-known, is mostly devoid of things to do and seems jammed in his role.
Looking back over the 25-year history of Toy Story the most remarkable transformation here is in the quality of the on-screen animation. The toys here look more real and lifelike. The subtle glow of the carnival lights at night against the toys' surfaces are a beauty to behold. While the first toy story looked like something generated from a computer (a stunning feat for its time), this looks like real toys come to life.
What helps make these animated characters so realistic is the 2160p resolution and the HDR10 video quality with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The colors are bright and clean and the detailed amination is fantastic. The Dolby Atmos audio is a wonderful compliment to the video with dialogue coming across the center channel crisp and sharp and the soundtrack laying nicely on the surround sound speakers. The extras are housed on two Blu-ray discs and include: Bo Rebooted, Toy Stories, Audio Commentary, Let's Ride with Ally Maki, Woody & Buzz, Anatomy of a Scene: Playground, Carnival Run, View from the Roof, Toy Box, Deleted Scenes, and Trailers & Promos
We are reminded yet again of Disney's penchant for masterful storytelling and the ability to market its products across generations. Today's kids will love the film and nostalgic parents will be a little lighter in the wallet after their kids are left wanting a Woody and Forky of their own. A delight for young and old Toy Story 4 gets it right on many levels. While many have grown up with these characters, a new generation will fall in love all over again.