Toy Story 4, the latest installment of the beloved Pixar franchise, was released on Friday, June 21, picking up two years after a college-aged Andy donates Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear and other toys to Bonnie, an imaginative child from the local daycare. Audiences are introduced to the new character Forky, a spork fashioned by Bonnie turned sentient, and follow the toys on an adventurous roadtrip.
The film has already proven a smash, sitting at number one at the box office after nabbing $118 million in North America over this past weekend. Fears of the fourth installment tarnishing the Toy Story legacy, a peril that befalls many cinematic sequels, were largely subverted—critics lauded the creators for retaining the film’s original magic and captivating viewers with surprises at every corner.
Like its predecessors, the latest film was crafted in large part by CalArtian talent, notably by writer and producer Andrew Stanton (Film/Video BFA 87). Stanton, known for directing Finding Dory (2016), was purported to have secretly starting writing Toy Story 4 before the third installment even hit the silver screen. Stanton is also credited as a producer on the newest film, along with Pixar Animation Studios Vice President-Creative Pete Docter (Film/Video BFA 90). Docter previously served as director of Inside Out (2015), which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Other CalArtians behind Toy Story 4 include Louise Smythe (Film/Video BFA 14), who lent her talent to the film’s art department, and John Lasseter (Film/Video BFA 79) to the writing team.
Like other films in the highly self-referential Pixar universe, Toy Story is littered with Easter eggs— A113s and Pizza Planet trucks abound. However, the Toy Story movies are also known for their distinct tendency toward the heartrending.
A recent article from Screenrant describes the end of Toy Story 4 as the most emotional—specifically, the dedications to venerated comedian Don Rickles, the voice of Mr. Potato Head, and longtime Pixar animator and CalArts alum Adam Burke (Film/Video BFA 93). Burke, whose writing credits include A Bug's Life (1998), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003) and Wall-E (2008), was posthumously awarded The June Foray Award at the 2019 Annie Awards.