Toy Story 4 is a masterpiece.
It’s Pixar’s funniest animation ever, the new toys are a blast and Bo Peep is incredibly badass, but a week after leaving the cinema in tears, it’s hard to shake the nagging feeling that Toy Story 4 betrayed the very core of Woody’s character.
To explain, let’s go back to the start.
Woody’s life was at its best in the original Toy Story.
Andy loved his cowboy doll and Woody’s purpose was crystal clear.
“What matters is that we’re here for Andy when he needs us. That’s what we’re made for, right?”
Jealousy takes hold as Andy’s new Buzz Lightyear takes centre stage, but ultimately, Woody puts aside his ego and learns to work with the flashy space ranger, because being there for Andy trumps all.
Fast forward to Toy Story 2, and Woody is figuratively and literally torn.
To live forever in a glass cage or risk his life playing with the child he loves isn’t an easy decision for the aging pull-string cowboy.
This time, it’s TV that comes to the rescue and the song “You’ve Got A Friend in Me” steers Woody away from the selfish choice moments before he would have been shipped off to a museum.
The lyric, “we stick together and see it through” continues to resonate in Toy Story 3.
Andy is about to leave for college and the toy’s plan to be played one last time fails, yet Woody’s loyalty never wavers.
Of course, the attic never comes and in an impossible-not-to-cry moment, Andy plays with the gang one final time before handing them over to Bonnie.
The toys rediscover their purpose and start over with a new child who loves them.
Never has a trilogy ended so poetically.
Enter Toy Story 4.
Woody is not the king of Bonnie’s bedroom. Jessie is sheriff in this town, and despite knowing his job is to be there for Bonnie, Woody can’t come to terms with being left in the closet.
All he has left is keeping Bonnie’s homemade toy ‘Forky’ from throwing itself in the trash.
After bumping into Bo Peep, Woody’s one-time girlfriend, our cowboy is once again tempted by a life without an owner.
He’s offered a chance at love; an opportunity to put himself first after years of living with the sole purpose of making others happy.
Woody chooses a life with Bo over a life with Bonnie where he’s no longer top dog.
You can argue that Bonnie no longer needed Woody, so he was well within his right to find a new calling.
Something about that doesn’t sit right with me.
After 24 years, and three and a half films defined by loyalty, Woody chooses himself.
It’s a decision that strikes to the core of what the original Toy Story was about: being there for your kid when they need you.
No matter what, we were always supposed to have a friend in sheriff Woody.
Toy Story 4 ruins the illusion we deserved at the end of Toy Story 3, that Woody would be there to Infinity and Beyond.