CVIndependent

Mon10212019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Toy Story 3 seemed like a definitive end to the story of Woody (the voice of Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and company. That movie was, in a word, perfect in the way it tied up the story of Andy and his lifelong toy companions.

I’m someone who thought Toy Story 3 should’ve been the final chapter in the franchise. And I’m now someone who is fine with one more chapter, thanks to the totally satisfying Toy Story 4.

Pixar and director Josh Cooley (making his feature directorial debut with the studio’s most-precious franchise) chose to mess with perfection and extend the story of Woody and friends. The results are less than perfect, but still very worthy of Toy Story lore; this is a welcome breath of fresh air in a summer movie season that thus far has been a series of big franchise stink bombs (Godzilla: King of the Monsters; Men in Black: International; Dark Phoenix).

After a recap in which Andy appears, the action goes to the home of Bonnie, the little girl Andy handed his toys over to at the end of Toy Story 3. Bonnie is gearing up for kindergarten and is a little freaked out, so Woody jumps into her backpack as moral support.

Woody witnesses Bonnie creating what will be a fantastic new character for the franchise in Forky (Tony Hale), crafted out of a plastic spork, pipe cleaners and Play-Doh. Woody immediately sees the importance of this new toy friend, and has himself some new missions: Make sure Forky accepts his new role as a toy instead of trash, and help Bonnie adjust to the rigors of kindergarten.

Bonnie’s day at kindergarten was only an orientation session, and her parents decide to take her on that ever-familiar movie trope: the road trip—in the family RV, no less. The family gets diverted, and the toys wind up getting themselves into trouble at an antique shop inhabited by Gabby Gabby, a deceptively adorable talking doll (Christina Hendricks). Gabby, of course, seems friendly at first (just like Ned Beatty’s purple bear in Toy Story 3), but she has evil intentions regarding a part of Woody’s anatomy—and she has an army of ventriloquist dummies to carry out her plans. Toy Story 4 ends up being as scary as it is funny when the action involves the dummy army. Damn, they are creepy!

Along with Forky and Gabby Gabby, other newcomers include Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) and, most spectacularly, stunt motorcycle-rider Duke Caboom, voiced by cinematic darling Keanu Reeves. Caboom, obviously modeled after Evel Knievel, is having his own existential crisis—low self-esteem, due to his prior child owner not being impressed with his jumping abilities.

Woody’s sweetheart, Bo Peep (Annie Potts), gets a prominent role in the new adventure. Sadly, the budding romance between Jessie (Joan Cusack) and Buzz that we saw in Toy Story 3 is not further explored. In fact, Jessie and Buzz are relegated mostly to background duty.

It’s not surprising that Toy Story 4 is the most visually impressive of the films. The folks at Pixar have had nearly a decade to hone their skills since the last chapter, so the likes of Woody, Buzz and Jessie have a new, refined beauty.

The ending of Toy Story 4 will again have fans and critics proclaiming that this must be the end for the franchise. The film certainly feels like a closing chapter, but we all said that about the last movie. The premise is still ripe for spinoffs (a Duke Caboom movie!), prequels—whatever. Heck, maybe Disney will do a live-action remake of the original, since that seems to be the trend.

Toy Story 4 is now playing at theaters across the valley, in a variety of formats.

Published in Reviews

Summer is upon us as of this month—but fantastic acts continue to come through our toasty little valley, and there is some entertainment you definitely won’t want to miss in June.

Splash House is returning for two 2015 weekends, and the June version of the festival will be held on Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14, at The Saguaro, the Hilton Palm Springs and the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club. Shuttles will run between the three venues. Performers include Bakermat, Cashmere Cat, Gigamesh and Wave Racer, just to name a few. Tickets start at $115. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino’s month is highlighted by Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 13. Peter Frampton was a staple of ’70s rock, and they joked in Wayne’s World that his album Frampton Comes Alive! came in the mail with samples of Tide. He continues to record to this day—and he’s a brilliant performer. Cheap Trick is a big name in rock music that won over young fans through the ’90s. Don’t miss this one. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 26, Latin music icon Marco Antonio Solís will be stopping by. After 30 years and 50 million albums sold, he’s one of Latin music’s most successful performers. Tickets are $59 to $129. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has busy June schedule. At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 6, Art Laboe will be returning with his Summer Love Jam IV. The “Oldies but Goodies” radio show is popular, and I love it when listeners call in to declare their adoration for their loved ones in lockup. Tickets are $40 to $60. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 12, the Doobie Brothers will be returning to the Coachella Valley. While many members have come and gone over the years, Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons keep it going, and they have a devoted following. Tickets are $55 to $75. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a great lineup this month. While Magic Mike XXL doesn’t come out until July 1, you’ll be happy to know that at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 6, Hunks: The Show will be at Spotlight 29. The Las Vegas-style show is similar to the performances by the Chippendales and Thunder From Down Under. Tickets are only $20, which means you’ll have more dollar bills to “tip” the performers. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 19, Gregg Allman will be following up on his Stagecoach performance. Allman is a true survivor who has managed to return spectacularly after a liver transplant a few years ago. Tickets are $35 to $55. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa is filling up the summer schedule. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 19, Tim Allen will be performing. The star of Home Improvement and the voice of Buzz Lightyear can breathe a little easier now that his current sitcom, Last Man Standing, has been picked up for another season. Tickets are $65 to $85. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 20, Wynonna and the Big Noise will be stopping by. This is a new project for country star Wynonna Judd (above right), and it’s been well-received by her fans. Tickets are $49 to $69. Partridge Family fans will be thrilled to know that at 9 p.m., Friday, June 26, David Cassidy will be performing. Cassidy has admitted to problems with alcohol and received another DUI in January 2014. Let’s hope that’s behind him now. Tickets are $29 to $39. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace recently announced some great new shows. At 7 p.m., Thursday, June 4, indie-folk band The Mountain Goats will be appearing. The North Carolina trio has put out 15 records since forming in 1991 and has performed around the world. Tickets are $20. At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 13, country singer-songwriter Ray Wylie Hubbard will take the stage. Hubbard has been considered a traditional country musician while also getting tagged with “cowpunk” and “folk” labels. Whatever you want to call him, the man is a brilliant songwriter, and this is indeed one of those June shows you don’t want to miss. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 26, the Paul Chesne Band will be playing. Chesne played at the Campout last year and has brought in the New Year at Pappy’s. This regular puts on a great show. Admission is free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Copa in Palm Springs has one event worth noting in June. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 12, and Saturday, June 13, well-known dragapella beautyshop quartet The Kinsey Sicks (below) will be stopping by. The name is a play on words referring to the Kinsey scale, of course, with six being the number on the scale that defines “exclusively homosexual.” The group sings parodies of various songs a cappella and has remained a crowd-pleaser in the LGBT community despite lineup changes. If you want to mix things up, take your dad as a Father’s Day gift! Tickets are $30 to $50. Copa, 244 E. Amado Road, Palm Springs; 760-866-0021; www.copapalmsprings.com.

Published in Previews