Toy story 4
The toys are back in town
What’s next for Woody?
Director Josh Cooley
Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Tony Hale, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key
How do you follow a film like Toy Story 3, a perfect trilogy-capper? “That was the biggest question,” says director Josh Cooley, making his feature debut. “All of these films are Woody’s story. I think of 3 as the end of Woody’s time with Andy. So now he’s in this brand new room, this is the beginning of his time with Bonnie… That puts him in a situation that we’ve never seen before, and a lot of great stuff came out of that.”
Plot details are unsurprisingly sparse, but the official synopsis promises that “a road trip adventure alongside old and new friends will show Woody how big the world can be for a toy”. Key among the new arrivals is Forky (Arrested Development’s Tony Hale), a “spork-turned-craft-project” who doesn’t actually want to be a toy. “One day, we were sitting in the room and, as a joke, just mentioned, ‘What would happen if a kid made a toy in this universe?’” Cooley tells TF. “Toys have a job to do. They’re for the kids. So we were joking, ‘A spork’s job is to help you eat, and then to be disposed. If that spork came to life, and now had a completely different purpose, what would that be like?’”
Other new arrivals include carnival prizes Ducky and Bunny, voiced by Key and Peele. “It’s really hard to not ruin takes with laughter,” says Cooley of their improv-ed banter. While there are fresh faces, Cooley also wants the film to feel familiar. “This has been a tricky balance,” he says. “This is right in line with the other films, but it’s not repeating anything that we’ve done before. It’s new, but it feels familiar, which is a very tough thing to do.”
Taking the toys into the wider world will be crucial to breaking new ground. “The majority has never been seen in a Toy Story film,” adds Cooley. “Having the toys go outside of the Tri-County Area [is new]
– not just for us in the film but also for Woody.” But the emotions could be as familiar as ever, with Tim Allen recently commenting that the story was so emotional he “couldn’t even get through the last scene”.
So, do we need to bring tissues? “A lot of people grew up with these characters, they have a strong nostalgia for them, and they feel like family to them,” considers Cooley. “It might not be a bad idea...” MM toy Story 4 opens on 21 June.
‘This doesn’t repeat anything – it’s new but it feels familiar, which is very tough to do’ Josh Cooley