Consider your day brightened, thanks to the arrival of a teaser trailer for Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” in advance of its opening on June 21 next year. Your favorite gang of playthings are all here as they happily hold hands while smiling and dancing high in the sky to the lilting strains of Judy Collins singing Joni Mitchell ‘s wistful song, “Both Sides Now.” Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Rex, Hamm, an alien, Slinky Dog and … what is THAT? A spork with red pipe-cleaner appendages and googly eyes? Suddenly the plastic eating utensil shouts in a voice that belongs to Tony Hale from TV’s “Veep”: “I don’t belong here!” And he let’s go, causing the toys to bang into one another. He then proclaims, “I’m not a toy.” Sheriff Woody being Sheriff Woody, he commands, “Somebody get him before he pokes an eye out.”
The new character is Forky, who belongs to Bonnie, the little girl from 2010’s “Toy Story 3,” who inherited all of Andy’s old toys when he went off to college. The newcomer apparently is a craft project of sorts that has come into Bonnie’s possession and is confused about his real purpose in life. That’s heavy stuff right there, but 1995’s original “Toy Story,” the first-ever feature length computer-animated film and its sequels were never shy about such matters as jealousy, toys whose owners abandon them and kids who like to destroy their possessions.
“Like most people, I assumed that ‘Toy Story 3’ was the end of the story,” says the new film’s director, Josh Cooley, who co-wrote 2015’s “Inside Out” and directed the short, ”Riley’s First Date.” “And it was the end of Woody’s story with Andy. But, just like in life, every ending is a new beginning. Woody now being in a new room, with new toys, and a new kid, was something we have never seen before. The questions of what that would be like became the beginning of an entertaining story worth exploring.” A road-trip journey allows Woody and his pals old and new to see more of the outside world beyond Bonnie’s bedroom than ever before.
No. 4, of course, arrives with built-in expectations given the success of its predecessors. The first “Toy Story” was Oscar-nominated for its original screenplay, score and Randy Newman’s song, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” It also was given a special achievement award, given its landmark status as the first cartoon feature that relied on pixels instead of a pencil for its creation. “Toy Story 2,”originally a straight-to-video movie, earned a 100% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes in 1999 and competed for a best song Academy Award for Newman’s “When She Loved Me.” “Toy Story 3” in 2010 topped them all, becoming the third-ever animated film to be up for Best Picture after 1991’”Beauty and the Beast” and “Up.” It received four more nods — adapted screenplay, sound editing, animated picture and song for Newman’s “We Belong Together,” winning the last two categories. As for box office, the three films have grossed $2 billion worldwide.