25 June 2019

Things Were The Way They Should Be

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Like going for a massage and finding yourself being tugged off before you leave, the end of Toy Story 3 was absolutely perfect. So why the fuck would anybody make a Toy Story 4? The trilogy had concluded with Woody and the toys accepting that their life with Andy was over as they watched him drive off into the distance. Where could you possibly go next? Does Andy come home as a paedophile, grab his old toys back, and use them to lure in the local children? Meanwhile in this scenario, his toys would have to decide whether or not they can reveal their true consciousness to intervene, whilst also coming to terms with the fact that the child they loved has grown up to be a monster? Because that's the only logical way that I can think of Toy Story 4 having anything interesting or new to say. Each of the three films have so far told the exact same story in that they're about one or more toys getting lost and having to find their way home. Meanwhile, there's an extra layer of existential subtext in there in which the franchise spoon feeds you the bullshit lessons of life. The first movie taught us that we're not unique or special, the second that we will be abandoned by the people that we love, and the third that finally, we will die. But if we remember that quote from pretentious wall painter Banksy, “you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time”. This might present itself as being nothing more than a children's film but with Toy Story 4 it seems that it's time for Woody to experience his second fucking death.

Toy Story 3 seemed like such a perfect ending because we all fell for the fantasy that there's a status quo that we can always find our way back to. Andy might have gone to college to presumably start convincing whoever he fancies to play with a woody of his own. But by leaving his toys with Bonnie I guess that we all imagined that life would continue for them as it had done before except with a different child. When Toy Story 4 begins though we realise that this isn't the case and that Bonnie is about as interested in Woody as I am in the old mens dicks in the gym changing rooms. I see them because they're there but I have absolutely no intention to start playing with them anytime soon. In fact, despite all of the toys coming to life the most unbelievable aspect of this film is in how Bonnie seems to still give a shit about any of her toys at all. I thought that the only time kids played with toys these days was when filming themselves unboxing them for their YouTube show whilst being groomed by their audience of sex offenders. But either way, Woody is very definitely not the favourite anymore, he's not the leader of the other toys anymore, and like Tom Cruise, it's looking likely that he is actually going to spend the rest of his life in the closet. That is of course until Bonnie creates the new character of Forky on her first day of school. I think this is supposed to show Bonnie's nervousness in that she quite literally has to make her new friend but it also implies that she's probably not the brightest in the class. I mean she calls him forky when he's quite clearly a spork. You should have called him Sporky you fucking idiot.

This creation of Forky brings up so many new questions though that we could be talking about him for years to come. I mean what are the fucking rules to this world? Did he come to life because he was treated like a toy? Because he was loved? Or because he simply got a pair of eyes stuck on him. If I draw a face onto a dildo with a fucking sharpie have I just unintentional cursed it with sentience? If so and I then shove it up my arse does it technically count as another notch on the bedpost? But also because he's made of the rubbish that Bonnie found lying around Forky doesn't see himself as a toy but as still being that rubbish. Instead of a compulsive desire to be played with like Woody has, Forky simply wants to get back to the bin to live out the life that he was originally destined for. But also what exactly is the metaphor for Forky here? Is it about addiction? He can't see the love that the world has for him because of his obsession with rubbish and so instead chooses to throw himself into the bin. Remember that in Toy Story 3, ending up in the bin will lead to the landfill site which means death. I guess that for Forky to willfully throw himself into it is essentially like committing suicide too unless his friends can intervene and teach him his true value or at least show him that he has a new purpose. So I guess it could just be about depression then maybe? Or is he a metaphor for gay or trans people in that Forky is trying to live the life that he believes he was originally made for despite clearly having turned out to be something different? I really don't know. Either way, he was fucking funny though and a perfect way to start smuggling some Frankenstein-esque “but what am I?” horror into a children's film.

Of course, he's the character that gets lost and so it's Woody who takes it upon himself to find him and bring him home. What makes this fourth film so different from the first three is that unlike the ensemble of the trilogy this really is just Woody's movie. The other characters do play a bit of a part in it but only in the sense that I'll occasionally find myself with some vegetables on my dinner plate. The vegetables are only there because it's expected that they will be but like the other toy characters in this film, they're there for padding and not substance. In fact, I hate vegetables so much that if they are there then I honestly don't know what you're meant to do with them beyond hurl them at the waiter whenever you run out of cheese or mayo. And if we're being honest it doesn't seem like this franchise has really known what to do with Buzz since he'd accepted his life as a toy and integrated himself in with the rest of the gang. By the time of the third instalment, he'd had his settings turned to Spanish mode and was relegated to comic relief in the way that I swear people only eat mushrooms because they look like little dicks and it's funny. Or at least they look like little dicks if you've been in the same changing rooms as the old men at my gym.

The point is that this is Woody's story now and as such, it plays out as though it's his version of Marvel's Logan. Not because it's more violent and he swears more in this one, although I'd definitely buy a toy version of him if it said, “some cunt has poisoned the water hole". But in that, it's entirely self-contained but still feels more like an epilogue for his character and to Toy Story 3. In fact, it does this by presenting us with the biggest question of them all. I'm only thirty right now and so the biggest thing that plagues my mind is of course, “does everyone else piss themselves a little after they've been to the toilet or is it just me?” But for an old and lonely toy like Woody, the question seems to be regarding the purpose of life and what the fuck it was all about? Listening to Woody talk is like changing your Tinder settings so that you're only looking for people above the age of fifty-five. Instead of conversations with upbeat young people that are looking for a little fun, you're left with the needy type who are desperate for love and it becomes so depressing that you can barely masturbate to anything that they say. When I send somebody a snapchat asking how wet they are I don't want a photo back of their eyes as they cry.

In that respect though, the depiction of the relationship between the toy and its owner is also quite an interesting one. The genius of the trilogy was that both adults and children could relate to the main characters. Kids would feel the fear of being abandoned by the ones responsible for them and adults would understand the need to keep their child happy and loved. But in this instalment, that dynamic has changed slightly to almost feel like a romantic relationship. Andy is treated as being Woody's ex and Bonnie is the relationship that he rushed into through fear of being alone. This feels especially true when Bo Peep returns as a lost toy and Woody simply can't understand how she can be so happy to be on her own. It's like when my friends parents seem sad for me when I tell that I'm still single. But I don't want them to be sad for me. They're old. I'm only telling them that I'm still single so that I can have an affair with them and get into their will before they fucking die. In Bo Peep's case though, she's living in a travelling carnival and so is quite literally playing the field by getting her sweet love from the strangers that she encounters on a daily basis. In this scenario, Woody is one of those people that defines themselves by the person they're with, whereas Bo Peep is a regular keys-in-the-bowl kind of party girl. She's also cool as fuck in this movie as though she's a rogue toy created from a lesbian smash-fest between Smurfette and Mad Max's Furiosa. In fact, without an owner, the only real difference between her and a Borrower is that I don't think that she'd ever need to take a shit.

However, the final thing that distinguishes this from the trilogy in terms of the lost toy narrative is that with Bonnie unable to fill the hole that Andy did... not that kind of hole... Woody has to question if it's even worth returning at all. The Toy Story films have always been about the inevitability of the end. In Toy Story 2 Jessie taught Woody that he'd one day be ditched and in Toy Story 3 they were all preparing for its imminence. But the toys always had a reason to return home because it hadn't quite happened yet. In Toy Story 4 though Woody's life as he knew it is over and with Bonnie not exactly taking to him he has to wonder what the point of it all was? If Toy Story 3 culminated in the end of Woody's life then Toy Story 4 is his Banksy-esque second death in which he has to deal with the world no longer thinking about him. In which case the message seems to be that we simply have to share whatever kindness we have whilst we're in a position to share it. Woody had a successful life because of the positive impact that he'd had on Andy in the way that an owner might have with their pet. One obviously has a longer life expectancy than the other but as long as they can make each other happy before one is snatched by the abyss then that's all that matters. The message of Toy Story 4 is that you're going to be forgotten and nothing matters in the grand scheme of things and so just do whatever good you can and then accept whatever comes next. Kids movies are usually the cinematic equivalent of sugar in that they're high energy and have no lasting substance, but after Toy Story 4 I needed a fucking Xanax and spent about an hour staring into the mirror.

Not that the film isn't fun of course. Like getting an erection after your twenties, Toy Story 4 achieves the impossible by justifying its own existence to the point that I really wouldn't be without it. In fact, it's so good that after having said all of this I haven't even needed to mention that it features the zen-master and none-fictional Jesus, Keanu Reeves. On the surface, the story that the children in the audience will be paying attention to is an action-packed, adventurous and funny one. It's the kind of film that children will enjoy whilst all of the adults around them are busy having an emotional breakdown. There were several moments that made me laugh out loud which coupled with the fact that I was also alone and mostly crying throughout probably made it seem as though I was going through the fucking menopause. It's the kind of movie in which the kids will laugh at the cute toys whilst the adults feel uncomfortable by the use of the score to fucking Taxi Driver. It even goes full The Shining at one point as the music from the end of that film begins to play and a mob of ventriloquist dummies begin marching in formation as though at a funeral. The kids watching were all still having fun but as Woody was being chased around an old antique store I was half expected for him to spot Andy being sucked off by a man in a fucking dog suit. Is this the last instalment in the franchise? I don't know. I thought the last one was. I guess the franchise hasn't explored the life of a sex doll yet. All I know is that this film is perfect and after three stone-cold classics this fourth instalment was a masterpiece that left me with a pain in my heart that can't exclusively be due to cholesterol. I thought that they should have stopped after the third one but... and brace yourself for a cheesy and vomit inducingly cliched line to end on.. at this point they really do have the filmmaking talent to go to infinity and beyond. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time. 

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