Wow that title’s a little misleading, isn’t it? Hell yeah it is, but it’s also probably kinda true. GOOD NEWS this morning! The first teaser trailer to Toy Story 4 dropped a couple hours ago, and it’s better news than the now 4-5 Cowboys squeaking by with a victory of the Eagles. That’s right. A 30 second trailer is better than my favorite football team winning their first road game of the season. We suck.
It’s the Toys as we know and love them. Looking sleek and fresh out of the box as ever. Now while I’m happy to see a fourth installment coming next summer, there are three beats in here about which I’d like to air my thoughts.
FIRST, the teaser opens on Woody. Not shocking, he’s the sheriff, the head honcho, the guy that responds to poisoned water holes. It’s quickly revealed that he’s holding hands with Buzz in a ring-around-the-rosie style hang out. Buzz is immediately followed Jesse. Lest we forget, these two lovebirds are lovers. Ever since that second ass movie when she laid a big ol’ fat one on him. IMMEDIATELY after that is Mr. and Mrs. Potato head. Obvious fixtures in the Toy-verse, they’re also the only other couple among the main cast. Immediately, my barely awake brain said, “Awe…I miss Bo Peep.” She was notoriously absent in the third installment, explained away as being sold in a yard sale. Sad day. She never really did much as far as going on excursions or being an overwhelming presence on any particular matter, but I loved the fact that when Andy was gone for long stretches of time, Woody had a significant other, a confidant of sorts, in the porcelain beauty that also herded sheep. That’s where my brain went. Somewhere sweet. Although, now that I type it, Woody and Bo were probably bumping smoothies the whole time. (Bumping smoothies = toy sex. Keep up.)
Well! After viewing the teaser, I started doing a little research and I happily discovered that Annie Potts is slated as a part of the main cast in this one. According to the premise on IMDB, Woody and Buzz go on a road trip in search of Bo Peep. I. Can’t. Wait. I’m glad she’s back, and I’m glad Pixar is addressing this split up. In my excitement I realized…those fuckers at Pixar know exactly what they’re doing. Opening the teaser on Woody, followed by the only two couples in the Toy-verse. I mean…three if you count Barbie and Ken. But I don’t. Intricate to the DNA of the franchise versus strictly comic relief? Nah. Two couples it is. So that’s excellent. Congrats to Bo Peep for getting her time to shine.
THE SECOND THING I found interesting is the fact that Mr. Potato Head is here in the trailer. Not the fact that he’s got a pocket full of posey, pre sé, what ever the fuck that is. I’m really talking about the fact Don Rickles, easily one of the funniest people to ever walk the earth, passed away in April 2017 due to Kidney failure. If i can mansplain something to you guys real quick, I will. But if that sort of thing triggers you, I’m still going to. We’ve already got your click and about 2 minutes of your time. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!! No, but seriously…
An insane amount of pre-production goes into these computer generated movies. From character design, to background design, several drafts of the script (true for any movie), producers meetings, director meetings, and so on and so forth. The biggest difference between an animated film and a live action film is that animation requires all voices to be done and finished before animation even begins. The animators conduct according to the actual voice, not to dialogue in a script. This allows for improvisation from the actor and encourages a little more free-form than adhering completely to what’s already been planned out. This is the exact opposite of what Mrs. Doubtfire portrays. Sometimes a voice actor will say the same line 50 times in 47 different ways. The best version is chosen and put into the project. They get all the voices done, get the dialogue finished scene by scene, and the animators go to town.
So, here’s the question. Does Don Rickles have a place in this film as Mr Potato Head or not? First he’s not listed in the cast on either IMDB or Wikipedia, and it’s kind of disheartening. You’d like to think that no one can fill his shoes in this kind of role, but you’ve gotta admit they did a pretty fine job of replacing Jim Varney with Blake Clark. A noticeable difference? Yeah. Solid enough to be forgiven due to circumstances? Hell yeah. Now, I don’t really trust Wikipedia all that much, but the fact that Rickles isn’t listed is a pure bummer. It should be noted that John Ratzenberger and Wallace Shawn are also not listed as Hamm and Rex respectively. Ratzenberger’s been in every goddamn Pixar movie since the creation of time, so it’s a given he’ll be on the team, but I’m not sure why Wallace Shawn is kept off the cast list.
Tom Hanks said he started doing his voice over work for Woody in December 2015, a full 3 1/2 years before the movie’s release. Just this month, he said that the ending of the film is a moment in history. Six weeks ago, Tim Allen said he had a hard time getting through the last couple of scenes because of how emotional they were. Now, I know it’s a little far fetched, but it IS feasible that Rickles could have gotten his voice acting out of the way before he passed. Given the extensive pre-production schedule and how early Tom Hanks and Tim Allen started their recording processes, there’s a chance.
**Except, no. There’s not. According to the Hollywood Reporter in 2017, Rickles’ rep confirmed he hadn't gotten a chance to record any dialogue for Toy Story 4. I’m sorry you had to read through all of that for a solid bum out like this.. I didn’t follow the research rabbit hole far enough before writing. I sort of just tried to connect the dots and put dates together as best I could. Maybe it was me not wanting to accept the fact that a second main voice actor has to be replaced. It’s not going to be the same. That whole section above was pure speculation and hypothesizing, which makes it 0% journalism, I apologize for wasting your time. I can understand them leaving off the voice actor on account of a lashing back from the public. But I trust Pixar. They usually know what they’re doing (unless they make a Cars 4).
THE THIRD THING I WANT TO TALK ABOUT is probably going to be to whole entire plot of this movie. The Wikipedia premise tells us a new toy named “Forky” will be introduced to the core group of characters. This is corroborated by the teaser trailer above, and the shockingly low quality picture to the right. Also in the teaser above, you’ll notice that everything is in perfect harmony, everyone ashes-to-ashesing in total sync until we’re finally introduced to Forky, who screams “I DON’T BELONG HERE!” before completely freaking out and making everyone fall-all-the-fuck-down. This isn’t just a new addition to the group. Those additions usually went smoothly, aside from Buzz in the first movie, but consider Jesse, Bullseye, Mrs. Potato Head, the aliens…everyone found their groove almost right away. So for Forky to be introduced to us via absolute meltdown is an interesting choice, but check out his composition. He’s a spork with google eyes, pipe cleaner hands and some sticky substance for eyebrows and a mouth. Maybe clay, possibly play dough. But this is entirely foreign territory. This is a HOME MADE TOY. Buzz is made in Taiwan, Potato Head was from Playskool, and Rex was from Mattel. Well, he’s not really from Mattel, he’s actually from a smaller company that was purchased by Mattel in a leveraged buyout. The point is these are all mass produced toys. They are legitimate toys. So here we have a new living thing, that didn’t ask to be made, having an identity crisis because he’s not one of these guys. Which begs the question: how the shit do these toys come to life?
My theory is it’s not the toys themselves. It’s the imagination of the kids (hence the title of the article). Which is probably why the voices of the characters match the voices that Andy gives them during play time. It’s more in the mind of the kid than in the toys themselves. Which means you can slap a face on any kitchen utensil, believe it’s a toy, and give it that life. So we can probably assume that the bulk of the movie will be split between finding Bo Peep and the message of accepting who you are, being comfortable with yourself, and finding your place in the world. I mean…it might be a little weird being created without your consent (none of us really were, mind blown). So Forky’s probably gonna go on a journey of self discovery which will likely make everyone in the theatre sob like little children. Unless they are a little child, in which case they’ll probably just sob. But the Toy Story franchise has always been purely great at making movies that relate to kids as well as adults. So I’m sure between the A story and the B story, there’s going to be something for everyone. There should be a Toy Story pun up there with the A and the B, but I didn’t C a place for one. AND WE’RE BACK IN!
Toy Story 4 has a tentative release date of June 29th, 2019, and stars Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Annie Potts, Joan Cusack and Tony Hale.
AUTHOR’S AFTER THOUGHTS
Unlike other online pop-culture and film blogs, we here at the Soapbox fully admit when we don’t fulfill our duties as entertainment journalists. When there’s more speculation than fact, we don’t live up to our own particular standards. We’re not like the others. We’re better.
R. Lee Ermy has also passed away, although it was earlier this year, and it remains to be seen if his army sergeant character will make an appearance. He was a facilitator. We need him. Fingers crossed.
I legitimately can’t watch the third movie without dissolving into a puddle of saline and grief. I’m not alone. This is a screen shot of a conversation that our fearless leader Stephen Balding and I had just moments ago.
Robbie Clark is a writer and contributor to Cinema Soapbox