Toy Story 4 director Josh Cooley explains why the film is no longer just a love story. When Pixar's sequel was first announced back in 2014, it was said to be a romantic-comedy centering around Woody and Buzz Lightyear's journey to find Bo Peep (who has not been seen onscreen since 1999's Toy Story 2). However, the film went through substantial creative changes in the years since, most notably discarding much of the original script by Rashida Jones and Will McCormack. Though more recently, it's been smooth sailing on the Toy Story 4 front and the movie is on course for its premiere this June.
Marketing materials have confirmed that while Bo is in Toy Story 4, the film itself is hardly the previously reported rom-com. The entire concept of the sequel has been reworked to be more of an existential tale about Woody trying to figure out his place in the world. He's always felt a toy's only job is to be there for their kid (wisdom he tries to impart on newcomer Forky), but crossing paths with a dramatically different Bo challenges Woody's long-held beliefs. Toy Story 4 looks to be as emotional as its predecessors, and ideally the narrative changes will make it a better film.
Screen Rant attended a press conference during the Toy Story 4 press day at Pixar, where Cooley was asked about how the film changed during its development, which increased its scale and scope:
"Well, with Bo being back in the picture, Woody and Bo have this relationship from the previous films. And so there's definitely an element of that, but it was clear that couldn't just be that; it would become a tiny people movie as opposed to a Toy Story film. So there's a ton of adventure in it. And I kind of think of it, like... Raiders of the Lost Ark isn't a love story, but it has that great romantic element in it. So I kind of think of it more like that."
The idea of bringing Bo back always sounded great on-paper (giving the character a proper resolution), but the rom-com idea felt somewhat questionable. Frankly, that seemed like a better fit for one of Disney's ongoing Toy Story TV specials rather than something that needed to be made for the big screen. As Cooley says, there's still a love element in Toy Story 4 since Woody and Bo are back together after being separated for a long time, but it's only one piece of a much larger puzzle. The finished film promises to be a thematically rich and poignant work that gives the franchise the proper end it deserves. In Pixar's eyes, Woody has always been the protagonist of the series, and there was at least one more chapter before his arc was complete.
Toy Story 4 was always a risky proposition given how perfect a sendoff the third installment was. Of course, nobody understood that more than the people of Pixar, and they deserve credit for realizing what they initially had wasn't fully working and needed to be refined. It would be a terrible shame if Toy Story 4 couldn't live up to the property's legacy, possibly ending the franchise on a sour note. The final verdict there won't come in until the movie is released, but the promotional campaign is certainly teasing a worthwhile installment that'll have audiences reaching for their tissues. If Tom Hanks and Tim Allen had trouble recording their final scenes, viewers may be in for something truly special.
- Toy Story 4 (2019) release date: Jun 21, 2019