Who runs the room? Girls!
A love interest turned heroine, a female villainess, a doll in charge, and a new sheriff…TOY STORY 4 is giving us some serious #GirlPower feels! This movie is kicking off summer with a message to every little girl who watches it, “you run the world”. Even though the movie stars our old friends Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) there’s been a shift in the power structure, and as far as we can tell, our leading men are totally ok with it.
The last time we saw our friends, Andy was handing them down to Bonnie, a sweet little girl that we knew would take good care of them. This movie picks up with Bonnie paying with all the toys we’ve come to love, but certainly not in the same way Andy did. One of the first things we notice is that Bonnie’s room isn’t run by Woody like Andy’s was. It’s run by Dolly, a rag doll who is in charge and in command. She knows the room, she knows Bonnie’s habits, and she knows how to give Woody just enough space to make him feel like he still has a place at the table, but also makes it clear she sits at the head of it.
One of the games we see Bonnie playing is “hat shop”. She assigns the town jobs to her toys, including a baker, hat shop owner, banker, and of course…sheriff. But it’s not the same Sheriff we’re used to, this time it’s Jessie (Joan Cusack), wearing Woody’s badge and taking care of the townsfolk. It’s important to note here, that Woody isn’t upset at Jessie for getting his job, but instead is happy for her. He knows she’s earned her spot and is proud of her. And when Woody and Buzz haven’t returned and it’s time to hit the road, it’s Jessie who lets the air out of the tire so the family can’t leave. And then it’s Jessie who masterminds “hacking” into the navigation system to get the RV where it needs to be (with a little help from another female, Trixie). In fact, if it wasn’t for Jessie’s bravery and quick thinking, Woody, Buzz, and Forky all would have been left behind.
Although her part is small (pun intended), Officer Giggles McDimples (Ally Maki) is a force to be reckoned with. She’s a tiny little ball of spunk and confidence, and she’s quick to jump into any situation. She’s also Bo Peep’s best friend, confidant, supporter, and advisor; and helps Bo take care of her sheep (Billy, Goat and Gruff, who we find out are, you guessed it, girls!) and the other toys they find in their adventures. She’s the smallest toy in the franchise, she’s a girl, and she’s super cute, but she is respected by everyone she works with, especially Bo, who trusts her completely with whatever job needs to be done.
Then we have Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) the first female villain the series has had. A vintage doll with a broken voice box. She’s been broken since she left the factory, so she’s never had a child to love her, and it’s truly all she wants. She runs the antique store that she lives in and is served by a group of dummies, male ventriloquist dummies to be exact. How or why Gabby is in charge we really don’t know, but her dummies are loyal, and the other toys know to stay out of her way, so she’s got the power, we just don’t get to learn where it came from. And truth be told, I really don’t care. Gabby is my type of villain. She’s super cute, she’s very sweet, she knows what she wants, and she really doesn’t care what she has to do to get it. And in fact, her whole motivation for doing something “bad” is because she wants the same chance the other toys were given, she simply wants to be loved by a child. That’s really not too much to ask for right? Being given the same opportunities as your peers even though you were made different. Can’t fault a girl for that.
And last, but certainly not least, we have our old friend Bo Peep. She was Woody’s sassy love interest in the first two movies and was missing from Toy Story 3, but thankfully she’s back, with even more sass and an awesome new backstory. The first thing we see is a flashback to Andy and Molly’s rooms, where the toys are attempting a rescue. When Woody and the gang have to move into Molly’s room, it’s Bo who calls the shots, showing that she and Woody were on equal ground when it came to being in charge. Fast forward a few years, and Woody takes a serious detour in his mission, because he sees Bo’s lamp, and has to try to find her. It’s obvious how much she means to him, and when the two are reunited we are treated to a whole new take on our pretty porcelain girl. She liberated herself from her lamp, choosing to live a life of adventure, on her own terms. She’s not a lost toy, she’s free, and that’s the way she likes it. Her outfit is more versatile and better for adventures, she has new friends, she speeds around in a car disguised as a skunk, and she helps and repairs other toys. She’s defiantly not the damsel in distress that Andy always had her playing, but a brave heroine who’s even sassier than she was the last time we saw her. She has no problems telling Woody that she’s not interested in life as a little girls toy, and while she still loves him, her life is her own now, and it’s gonna stay that way.
The Toy Story franchise has been dominated by male characters, so it’s nice to finally see that dynamic change. And in TOY STORY 4 we’re treated to not only a host of strong female characters, but we also get to see our heroes reacting positively to the leading ladies in their lives, and that makes this movie an important one for both girls and boys, of all ages, to see. For more about TOY STORY 4, check out our review here.