You’ve got a friend in Disney/Pixar, as the venerated animation studio has made sure to return the entire voice cast for the fourth installment of the beloved Toy Story series, in theaters June 21.
Many observers thought there might be nowhere to go for Woody, Buzz, and the gang after the third film in the series saw the grown-up Andy turn over his friends to a very imaginative little girl named Bonnie. Many tears were shed as the toys closed one chapter of their lives, and Andy drove off to college.
However, Pixar has lately been more open to sequels, as the blockbuster success of Finding Dory and The Incredibles 2 has proven audiences’ love for familiar characters remains strong. So it was perhaps inevitable that Pixar’s writers found a way to return to the series: with a spork.
New owner Bonnie’s vivid imagination inspires her not only to play with her existing toys, but create new ones. Who she creates is Forky, a plastic piece of dinnerware adorned with pipe cleaners and voiced by Tony Hale. The only problem is, Forky is so strange, even he’s not sure exactly what he is. He’s most certainly emphatic that he’s not a toy, just as Buzz Lightyear used to insist he was a real space ranger. So the other toys must find a way to welcome the reluctant spork into the fold, lest he run away and cause trouble. Which, of course, he must.
Returning favorites include Tom Hanks and Tim Allen
The voice cast of the Toy Story films has been consistent since 1995, featuring Tom Hanks as cowboy leader Woody, Tim Allen as Buzz, John Ratzenberger as the sarcastic piggy bank Hamm, Wallace Shawn as the nervous dinosaur Rex, and Laurie Metcalf as Andy’s mom.
Pixar even maintained child actor John Morris as Andy from the original Toy Story in 1995 to the third film in 2010. The only major recasting was Slinky Dog, originally voiced by Jim Varney. After the actor passed away in 2000, comedian Blake Clark replaced him.
However, this time around, returning favorites come back in novel ways. After sitting out Toy Story 3, Annie Potts (probably best remembered as the receptionist from Ghostbusters) returns as Bo Peep, who had been a paramour for Woody in the first two movies. She’s apparently enjoying the glories of not being owned by anyone in particular, as she seems to preside over an amusement park. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen will also return.
Bo’s return is not the voice casting’s only twist. Even though he passed away in 2017, the legendary Don Rickles still voices Mr. Potato Head, with Pixar using archival recordings to create a new performance. The studio employed a similar tactic in 2017’s Cars 3, resurrecting the late Paul Newman’s character Doc for a few scenes.
As usual, Pixar has kept many plot details under wraps, not revealing much about new characters, but here’s what is known about the new characters and voices, outside of Hale’s Forky.
- Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame voices Gabby Gabby, a sinister-looking pull string doll with a defect in her voice box.
- Keanu Reeves (The Matrix series) joins the fold as daredevil toy from the 70s Duke Caboom
- Ally Maki (Cloak and Dagger) voices Giggle McDimples, a plastic police officer.
Other new voices include Oscar winners Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) and Jordan Peele (Get Out).
Yes, bring tissues
The team at Pixar is known to be proud of how quickly they can make audiences cry, and Toy Story 4 will certainly be no exception. Every year, studios and theater owners convene at an event called CinemaCon, where the studios show off their summer blockbusters and/or awards season bait, with Toy Story 4 likely to be both.
Pixar unveiled the first 17 minutes of Toy Story 4 there, reportedly causing many an eye to well up. As the Beach Boys sing in the trailer, God Only Knows what we’d be without these toys.
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