Disney recently announced that Toy Story 4 is set for release in 2019. That sparks in me the immediate reaction that we don’t NEED another Toy Story, because we already have three perfect ones. Granted, I had this reaction when Toy Story 2 was announced AND when Toy Story 3 was announced, and while it’s hard to differentiate between how perfect these films are, the sequels are probably both better than the original. I hope the same kind of care to the legacy of these characters (much more recognizable to the children of the world today than Mickey, Minnie, or Pluto) is upheld.
Toy Story 2 introduced a number of new characters to the gang, most notably, Jessie the Cowgirl (voiced by Joan Cusack). Unlike the toys of Andy’s room, Jessie had lead a much more tumultuous life. She preferred life as a collectible, because being loved by a child hurt too much (as all the toys would learn in the next installment) when that child outgrows them. Woody finally gets her to open up and tell her story, which is sad enough, but oh no, no, Pixar wasn’t satisfied with jumping up and down on your heart strings. They wantonly deployed Sarah McLachlan, the master of vocal tear generation, to sing the beautiful “When She Loved Me” over Jessie’s tale.
Pixar’s been in a rut for the most part over the last few years. It is heartening to hear the sequels are stopping after Toy Story 2, and we have had a few gems like Inside Out and Finding Dory, but when you watch a scene like this, you remember what Pixar was and should be again. There isn’t a demographic on Earth not moved by some part of this scene. They didn’t make films for kids, they made them for all ages in a way that never pandered to any age. This is the bar they face in Toy Story 4. So….good luck with that!