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BRIAN VINER reviews Toy Story 4

Toy Story (U)  Rating: Nine years after Toy Story 3, those clever people at Pixar have brought us Toy Story 4. But as well as clever, might they also be a bit greedy? That was my concern as I settled down to Randy Newman’s opening theme song.After all, the 2010 film seemed like a flawless conclusion to a perfect trilogy, rounding off the delightful tales of a boy’s playthings as he grew up and went to college. How could the narrative move forward without feeling superfluous? Exploitative, even. Might they keep churning out these movies to infinity and beyond?So I went with a troubled soul. I also went with my son Joe, who at 24 is exactly as old as the franchise, born just before the original Toy Story came out in 1995.He and his siblings have grown up with Woody the cowboy, astronaut Buzz Lightyear & Co just as surely as my generation grew up with Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog. Andy’s toys were their Famous Five.The good news is that he enjoyed Toy Story 4 even more than I did. Happily, it turns out that there is still a valid tale to tell, that of Woody (voiced, as ever, by Tom Hanks) resolving his existential crisis by finding an enduring purpose in a post-Andy world.At the end of the last film, the toys were preparing for their new life with a little girl called Bonnie.At the start of this one, following a pre-credits flashback to the events of nine years ago, when Woody was separated from his dear friend Bo Peep (Annie Potts), he is grappling with the fear of middle-aged men (and toys) everywhere: redundancy.Not only is he not Bonnie’s favourite, she doesn’t ever play with him. Horrifyingly, humiliatingly, he is gathering dust. A little ball of it keeps sticking to him, his own personal tumbleweed.But Woody is nothing if not devotedly loyal. When Bonnie’s parents pack her off for her first day at kindergarten, she is distressed to find that she can’t take a toy with her. So Woody hides in her backpack to watch over her, and raids a rubbish bin so she can make a playmate of her own.This turns out to be Forky (Tony Hale), a wooden fork/spoon (or ‘spork’) with wobbly eyes and pipe-cleaners for ...Read more

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