DisneyPixar just released the newest trailer for Toy Story 4, and unlike our previous short glimpses at new characters, this full trailer reveals the storyline and plot of the fourth Toy Story movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:

So, what did you think? My initial viewing left me scratching my head. I mean, I love most all of the Pixar films, even Cars 2 (for its visuals) which most people did not rave about. I appreciate a good cry, despite knowing Pixar is manipulating my heartstrings and leaving me a blubbering mess.

When former Disney Animation Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter spoke about Toy Story 4 at the D23 Expo in 2015, he mentioned that it was going to be Woody and Bo Peep’s love story. I was cautiously optimistic about that, even tho, Toy Story 3 had wrapped the toys’ lives up so neatly, I figured there would be a backstory/prequel aspect to Woody and Bo Peep, and perhaps they’d be reunited. Well, a LOT has happened since that D23 Expo, and obviously, whatever tale John Lasseter may have planned to tell, probably got changed a bit if not completely. Just as we no longer have “Gigantic” to look forward to (which I must admit I am thankful for, after learning a bit about it at the same 2015 D23 Expo), ideas change, directors change, and sometimes things get shelved altogether. I’m not sure why Pixar felt like this was a story they needed to tell, especially after Toy Story 3 left everyone with such warm fuzzy feelings (at least that’s what I was left with after sobbing uncontrollably for about 20 mins).

Let’s go through my initial reactions as I watched, and see if you agree…Ok, Bonnie makes “Forky” and Woody gloms onto him (having learned not to be threatened by new toys way back in the original Toy Story) and proclaims Forky to be the most important toy to Bonnie right now, and as such must be protected at all costs. Now this is where they lost me right off the bat. Maybe if this movie came out in 1999, I might relate better to this concept. That’s when I had my first child, and sure, if there was something that he created and loved more than anything, I could see myself going to extreme lengths to make sure this toy was always there. However, this is a spork with googly eyes and pipe cleaners attached. A craft project, that – and this is the joy of arts and crafts – you could create again and again. If my son made a spork guy and that spork got stepped on and cracked, or his eyes fell off, or he simply got lost, we’d make a new one. I understand that Woody may not know or understand this concept, but the majority of the audience watching should.

So while I can see what they were trying to do here with Woody “doing the right thing” and saving the spork, it just doesn’t hold as much weight as losing Buzz, or Slinky Dog, or even Bo Peep, who he seemed resigned to forget about in Toy Story 3. Additionally, if the message they are trying to send is “every friend a child ‘creates’ is special and must be preserved at all costs…” that’s not a very realistic parenting message.

Life is about growth; growing up, making changes, some harder than others, and yes, some things get left behind. A spork made in school simply does not equate to a childhood dog, or friend, or toy that never left your side. But as a parent of 3 children, if any of them did lose a special toy, and nothing could be done to find it or bring it back, we would move on and that toy would become a cherished memory. Because as much as we, as parents, may grow attached to certain things our children once loved or played with or even wore, chances are more than likely they will cast them aside as they grow up and move on to bigger and better things. (Which I am knee-deep in as my youngest, now 10, is finally cleaning out his room and donating some toys that he’s either had from birth, inherited from his older brother and sister, or were once beloved and now collecting dust.)

And THAT is the lesson that Pixar made so clear in Toy Story 3. After ripping our hearts out with “When Somebody Loved Me,” the song woven throughout Jessie’s backstory, we all felt incredible guilt for donating toys we once loved. Toy Story 3 wiped that guilt clean with the acknowledgement that toys can be passed on to new generations of children who will love and care for them, creating new everlasting memories.

So whether Woody represents a parenting mentality in this tale, not wanting to upset Bonnie, or one of a friend not wanting to leave another friend behind, it seems like a very weak storyline to build an entire movie on, even if it’s only a stepping off point to get to finding Bo Peep. And the spork doesn’t even want to be alive! So let him go. There are so many other sporks available to stick googly eyes on. But it’s happening. This is the path Pixar has chosen. Woody flies out after Forky, and their journey to get back to Andy Bonnie, now begins.

Next up, Woody spies Bo’s old lamp in an antique shop, and has to go in to see if she’s there. As is the case with Toy Story 2 (Stinky Pete) and Toy Story 3 (Lotso) there are “bad toys” (in this case ventriloquist dummy dolls under the command of a creepy talking doll) in the antique shop, which try to attack and capture Woody and Forky. I mean…is this the best they could do? I appreciate the nod to the original ventriloquist concept that Woody was once going to be before the first Toy Story was completed, but apart from that, it’s getting a bit repetitive here, no? And this time instead of Jessie coming to the rescue as she did in the Toy Story of Terror short, it’s Bo Peep who rescues Woody. From what we can see, Bo has become a strong, independent woman while she’s been away from Andy’s room.

At this point in the trailer, we also see Buzz has jumped out of the moving RV where all the toys began with Bonnie, and stumbles into a pretty permanent-looking carnival set up. Bo Peep also gestures to this same carnival, asking Woody if he wouldn’t rather live there than a kid’s room. Forky seems to have been converted to the cult of being a kid’s toy, and asks if they are going back to Bonnie. So the same hijinx will now ensue, with Woody and Buzz separated, both of them separated from their kid, Bonnie in this case, and new toys who either hinder or help them along their journey back to where they belong.

The whole thing just left me with a very “meh” reaction. It doesn’t seem like anything new will be learned here, it’s the same old story with a new location, and the same ending looks likely. I’m sure I could be mistaken, and I welcome being proven wrong and loving this movie. For now, though, it seems like Pixar is just trying to rewrite the same story (and I’m not sure who they are trying to appeal to). Maybe they are hoping a whole new generation of fans will just jump on the Woody bandwagon. But as mentioned before, they ended things so perfectly with Toy Story 3, it would’ve taken an exceptional story or backstory to top that.


So long, partner.

So what do you think? Did we need this new story? Do you like how the plot looks in the trailer? Do you think there’s a lot still missing that may make this a new Toy Story favorite? Share your thoughts below or with me on social media!