My First Trip to Pixar: An Early Sneak Peek at “Toy Story 4”
At the beginning of April, Pixar invited me to an early press event for Toy Story 4. This two-day event brought together a diverse group of journalists from all across the globe for the first in-depth look at the fourth film in the Toy Story franchise. I was excited about the trip because the Toy Story films are some of my favorite movies of all time. I love everything about these films including the animation, stories, voice acting, soundtrack, and characters. I adore this franchise so much that like many, I was a bit leery when Pixar announced a fourth film.
As someone who firmly believes that the Toy Story film series is the best of the best when it comes to Pixar, Toy Story 3 was the perfect conclusion to an excellent trilogy. The announcement of a fourth film didn’t seem necessary, and when the initial teaser dropped, the world seemed to have somewhat mixed feelings on whether or not they were on board with this fourth installment. During the trip to Pixar, I not only saw the first 17 minutes of Toy Story 4 but multiple clips from various scenes as well. This footage presentation quickly washed away my fears and confirmed that Toy Story 4 is destined to be pure Pixar magic.
On the first day of the trip, we took a shuttle to Pixar Studios and collectively walked around the studio to explore and take photographs. The studio features many notable spots including the Pixar lamp and the ball near the main campus entrance right before walking into the building. Once inside the studio, we got to explore a bit more. The building featured a studio store, two art galleries featuring artwork from Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4, and a massive display case full of all the awards Pixar has won over the years. If you love Pixar as much as I do, you have to experience the studio for yourself at least once.
After exploring the main building, we were brought into a theater where Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley and producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen introduced themselves before showing us the first 17 minutes of the film. As the lights dimmed, I was somewhat nervous about what I was going to see and how I would feel about it. Let me say that if you are a fan of this franchise, the opening scene is not only filled with the perfect amount of nostalgia but features some of the best visuals from any Pixar film yet. Within the film’s first 10 minutes, Cooley and the writing team remind audiences precisely what it is about these films that make them unique.
I don’t want to spoil the film for anyone who hasn’t seen this footage, but within the first seventeen minutes, we not only get a trip down memory lane but meet Forky and see how he becomes part of this toy world. The character of Forky on the surface might seem like a hard sell, but the film does a great job of not only introducing the character but incorporating him into the world. The film takes place years into the future where Andy’s toys have been passed down to Bonnie. As Bonnie begins her first day of kindergarten, Woody tags along unexpectedly because he wants to make sure that Bonnie is ok. It is at school where Bonnie finds a spork and uses some trash to create Forky. Arrested Development and Veep’s Tony Hale voices Forky, and given what the character is made up of, I found Hale’s voice to be the perfect fit for such a weird and unusual character. While at first, it is sort of weird to see a spork being part of this ragtag team of beloved toys, Forky surprisingly works because he doesn’t fit in and everyone including himself knows it. He becomes the outcast of the group who is going to play a significant role in the story.
Another character with a significant role in this fourth installment is Bo Peep. For those who love Toy Story as much as I do, you probably will recall that Bo Peep played a minor role in the first two films but was completely absent from the third. This fourth installment reintroduces the character to the audience while also showing how her role has changed over time. Bo still has a soft spot for Woody but being a lost toy has given her a new outlook on life. We see that Bo has become strong and independent after figuring out how to survive on her own. We didn’t know much about her from the previous entries, but she will be front and center here. The opening scene does feature Bo and alludes to why she disappeared before the third film. It is a beautiful and emotional scene that sets the bar high for the rest of the movie.
Based on what I have seen and learned about the film, it seems as though Woody, Forky, and Bo will be the main characters this time around. However, fear not as there will be a lot of characters in this entry, old and new. The new characters are going to be a mix of friends and villains. I’ll also note a majority of this story will take place in different locations with the characters being more spread out more than usual. An antique store will play a significant role in the story as it is the location where many lost toys ultimately end up. A carnival near the antique store will be another placed explored during the film. The carnival will more than likely be a big part of the storyline that involves Buzz Lightyear as well as Ducky and Bunny voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele.
I get the feeling from the screened footage that the story will take all of the beloved characters and put them outside of their comfort zone. The writers are trying to do something completely different in this film so separating the main characters and putting them in new situations seems like a smart way to make the story feel different from the previous outings. Fans have already pointed out that Woody seems different in this film, but that is because he is forced to see a world from a new perspective. That said, you can expect that along with your favorite characters having to embrace new challenges, a lot of these new characters including Duke Caboom, voiced by Keanu Reeves, and Gabby Gabby voiced by Christina Hendricks, will bring something new to the film as well. They are sure to show how their lives have varied from all of those who were once known as Andy’s toys.
With Toy Story 4 opening in theaters in less than two months, Pixar fans should stay tuned to We Live Entertainment as we will have other articles about the film in the weeks ahead leading up to its release. Based on all of the footage shown at CinemaCon and during the various presentations at Pixar, Toy Story 4 looks as though it is going to be a fresh take on this beloved franchise.
Toy Story 4 opens in theaters everywhere on June 21, 2019.