Spectacularly animated and remarkably poignant, this Woody-centric fourth installment introduces memorable new friends and brings back beloved old ones for one more adventure. Although Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Rex (Wallace Shawn), the Potato Heads, and the rest of the gang still have a part to play, this story is firmly Woody's. He grapples with transitioning from a favorite toy to one who's occasionally left in the closet and then becoming the self-proclaimed protector of Forky, who's having a (hilarious) existential crisis about whether he's trash (it's warm and cozy, and where he feels he belongs) or toy. Hale is perfectly cast as the quirky, inquisitive Forky. And Potts is fabulous as the now wiser, street-savvy Bo, who's able to see the joy of being a free-range toy. She's not bound by the changing whims of a child who can outgrow her playthings.
Along with Forky, the new characters who have the most impact are insecure Canadian stuntman Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) and buddies Bunny (Jordan Peele) and Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key), sewn-together stuffed animals who are supposed to be a top carnival prize but wind up following Buzz on his mission to rescue Woody and Forky. The duo's familiar chemistry and banter offer some of the movie's key laugh-aloud moments (like their schemes to attack humans). Gabby Gabby and her creepy ventriloquist dummies aren't the most frightening of villains -- especially after it turns out that they, like most angry folks, are just misunderstood. Ultimately, this is a story about Woody and his reconnection with Bo. Her development is one of the most fascinating in Pixar history. She may not have super powers, but Bo Peep is every bit as incredible as Elastigirl, and she'll do whatever it takes to save her sheep and her friends. Ever since 1995, this beautifully animated franchise has taught audiences about the power of play, and this installment is a powerful capstone on that legacy. (Passionate Pixar fans should watch for the film's many Easter eggs, which cover the entire Pixar universe.)