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Toy Story 4

By Joanna Langfield

While so many other franchises regurgitate the same old same old in what feels like a corporate cash grab, Toy Story has maintained its sweet, funny and very touching freshness. This, the purported last in the series, is no exception. There’s heart aplenty, but nobody’s resting on their laurels here.

The iconic Woody, voiced superbly by Tom Hanks, has been passed on to a little girl and now, as she is about to enter kindergarten, Bonnie seems to be leaving Woody in the toy closet a lot more than she used to. Scared and nervous on her first day at school, she creates a new toy, made of a plastic spork. And Forky, voiced by the endearingly elastic Tony Hale, is the new number one in Bonnie’s life. Where does that leave Woody, a toy entering his 60’s, a hero who may have lost his reason for being?

There are moments of such piercing perception, as there have been throughout this remarkable series, they take your breath away. But, just as you may be wiping away a tear of two, here come Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who got the most guffaws at my screening, as well as Keanu Reeves, absolutely perfect as the woulda/coulda/shoulda stuntman Duke Caboom.

Not to worry: we have special moments with each of the characters we have grown to love and, speaking of love, I won’t give away what happens, but Woody’s got a honey here! She’s smart and brave and a terrific partner for the adventures Woody and friends have, finding understanding with toys that scare them, stirring up strength to get past the creepy guys and offering a loving hand to face infinity and beyond.

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