Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story 4 reunites Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the long lost Bo Peep (Annie Potts) when the toys are brought along on a family road trip with new owner Bonnie.
The pull string sheriff doll, who loyally served as the favorite toy of former owner Andy until he handed the toys down when leaving for college, has always been confident about his place in the world as a cherished toy.
But when Bonnie creates craft-project-turned-toy Forky (Tony Hale), who insists he’s “trash” that doesn’t belong among the other playthings, Woody takes it upon himself to get Forky to embrace his new existence.
A detour on a road trip brings with it an unexpected reunion with former sweetheart Bo Peep, who was sold off years ago in a yard sale, which finds Woody and Bo learning they’re worlds apart when it comes to life as a toy.
Along for the journey are at least three newcomer toys: tough-talking carnival prize duo Ducky (Keegan Michael-Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele), and a hero toy (Keanu Reeves) who Bo turns to for help when her accompanying sheep go missing. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) portrays an unnamed character described only as a “hippie mother.”
The plot was originally inspired by the real-life love story of original director John Lasseter and wife Nancy, as revealed by the Toy Story and Toy Story 2 director at D23 Expo in 2015.
“Bo Peep really reminds me of my wife Nancy in many ways,” Lasseter said.
“And my wife Nancy has an incredibly emotional story, before I met her, so it's a very personal story — as is every film at Pixar. But that’s what this one is for me. It’s a very touching story that’s inspired by my love for my wife.”
Lasseter stepped down as director in 2017 as result of his many duties as CCO at both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios and the film — which retains Bo at the center of its plot — underwent significant rewrites.
Lasseter crafted the original story treatment with Pixar Brain Trust members Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) and Lee Unkrich (Coco), with Stephany Folsom penning its script following the exits of screenwriters Rashida Jones and Will McCormack.
The touching sendoff in the final moments of Toy Story 3 became only the end of the toys’ story with Andy, but not the end of Toy Story. This next film, its creators argued, would only move forward with a story worth telling.
“We do not do any sequel because we want to print money. We do it because each of these films was created by a group of filmmakers, and to my mind, they are the owners of that intellectual property,” Lasseter said in 2015.
“So we look at it with the simple question: Is there another story we can tell in this world? And that desire has to come from the filmmaker group.
“Sometimes, the answer is an obvious yes. And sometimes it’s, ‘I love the characters and I love the world, but I don’t have an idea yet.’ And sometimes it’s just, ‘that movie is a great movie,’ and the filmmaker wants to move on and do something else. And that’s fine, too.”
Toy Story 4 opens June 21.