Earlier this week, Pixar released its first Toy Story 4 teaser, and the reaction was mixed. Who’s this pipe cleaner concoction shouting “I am not a toy!” in Tony Hale’s voice? We were promised Bo Peep, Woody’s Annie Pott’s-voiced love interest who went missing between Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3. Where’s Bo Peep? Is this what happened after Rashida Jones and Will McCormack left the project over John Lasseter-related concerns? Pixar pushed back the release date and rewrote the script, taking a female voice out of the project both behind and in front of the screen. To be fair on that gender point, the screenplay is now solely credited to newcomer Stephany Folson. Still, #JusticeForBo.
Then came the second teaser, a rather meta-reaction to the first teaser. It’s basically a Key & Peele reunion sketch, introducing new-to-the-franchise characters Ducky (Key) and Bunny (Peele) talking about the fact that a new Toy Story movie is coming out and joking about misremembered versions of Buzz Lightyear’s catchphrase (“To infinity — and your mom!”).
As The Verge cynically, but quite accurately deadpanned, “It’s a savvy move from whatever Gen Z Disney marketing associate thought up the scheme: releasing a video titled ‘Toy Story 4 | Teaser Trailer Reaction’ on YouTube will probably suck up all that search engine SEO from the apparently thousands of people looking for that content. Good work, corporate marketing machine!”
It’s possible this drip-feed version of Toy Story 4 marketing will continue and we’ll soon a Bo Peep teaser. The Secret Lives of Pets 2 is doing something similar, leaving behind traditional trailers in favor of shorter, character-highlighting teasers.
Stepping back from all of it, though, I am curious: what do you actually want from Toy Story 4? Don’t just say “a good movie.” Because, duh. Also, you’ve got some nerve, mister.
Let’s go deeper than that. Are you in the #JusticeForBo crowd (I’m really trying to make that a thing, if it isn’t already)? Potts, btw, has indicated in interviews she’s still record plenty of dialogue, even after the script rewrites. Do you long for something truly mischievous, like a sudden Child’s Play-esque turn toward violent toys? Yeaaaaahhhh, that’s probably not going to happen, but we are heading for some existential debate over not just toy and master but also what to make of those toys kids create on their own. Is that an exciting new angle on the franchise? Is it simply a fool’s errand to ever continue this franchise after the triumph of Toy Story 3’s ending? Or, like Andy, have you simply aged out of the Toy Story movies? Things, after all, used to be allowed to end. Not anymore.
Now, Toy Story soldiers on for the first time without the recently-fired John Lasseter, though he has a story credit on the film. By the time Toy Story 4 arrives on 6.21.19 it will have been nearly 25 years since the release of the first Toy Story. A quarter century is a long time to still be playing with toys. What new universal truth about childhood will they tell us next? Something about the power of own imagination and creativity, from the looks of it. Is that what you wanted from Toy Story 4? Let me know in the comments.