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Tim Allen is a man of many, many jokes, but he’s also someone who cares about humanity and what makes people tick deeply, too, having studied philosophy while in college. In fact, while Tom Hanks admitted he sort of just showed up when needed for Toy Story 4, Tim Allen was more invested in the process and even read the script ahead of time, recently calling the creative team “monstrously idiotic great writers” who made him feel all the feels.
During a press conference ahead of the release of Toy Story 4, producer Jonas Rivera revealed that Tim Allen was actually the catalyst to moving forward with the ending the movie ultimately chose to show on the big screen. Speaking to Tim Allen, he said:
You know, Tim, we never told you this, but we actually used your reaction a little bit as inspiration. When we met and recorded and walked you through the ending, your reaction was like our first [clue], because we realized we were throwing the ball pretty far with that ending. We were pretty hesitant, even at Pixar, we were going should we do this? When we read it and we were talking to you and we saw him kind of recoil back like, 'OK,' we could tell it hit you. If we could get Tim Allen, like our Buzz Lightyear himself, to sort of sit back and ponder it, maybe we have something there.
So, if you ever had the thought, "Why is Pixar evening making Toy Story 4?," please know that everything about the fourth movie in the franchise was carefully crafted. In fact, the Pixar team really went “to infinity and beyond” with various drafts of the script, and only settled on the ending after Tim Allen gave his stamp of approval. It sort of ties in with what director Josh Cooley told CinemaBlend ahead of the release of Toy Story 4--that writer Andrew Stanton worked on the script in secret, so the Pixar team didn’t really even know what was what with Toy Story 4 as it was initially taking shape. Check out more below.
We know the movie was constantly reshaping during the myriad years it took to get to the final product, and It sounds like the ending was really a question mark for at least a brief while. In fact, Jonas Rivera also confirmed that Tim Allen reading the script really helped the team to realize they had the right tone. He also noted at a press conference in Orlando:
You didn’t know it, but you gave us the first kind of receipt that that might be the right story math.
Obviously, we’d be remiss if we started talking about the ending without getting into some actual spoilers, but we also try to be transparent about spoilers. So if you haven't caught the movie yet, please stop reading here! No seriously, some basic ending spoilers are coming. You've been warned.
At the end of Toy Story 4, Woody is faced with a choice. He’s always felt like his one duty as a toy was taking care of his kid, but as we saw at the beginning of Toy Story 4, Bonnie is outgrowing Woody. At the same time, Bo Peep is introduced back into Woody’s life.
It is actually an uncharacteristically gentle comment from Buzz Lightyear that helps Woody to understand what his future needs to be. If Gabby Gabby's storyline in this movie didn't make you cry, nothing might, but the big moment between Buzz and Woody is certainly one of the most earnest and devastating in Toy Story history. It’s a very adult moment in which Woody faces a fork(y) in his road and has to either choose a romance, which would break up the gang, or stay with his kid, which would be heartbreaking for his love life. In life, there are consequences for any path you choose, both good and bad.
That’s really a bittersweet ending in some ways, although it’s a hopeful one too. Or maybe, as Rivera mentioned, it's just good "story math."
Once this version of the draft was fully together, Tim Allen took a look and he also recounted his feelings regarding what happened when he read that script ahead of the film's release. If you wondered how the Last Man Standing actor felt after reading that ending, the answer is, in a word, emotional. He also said:
As I’ve said many times, I read through it and then the end kind of was mercurial. Then I read it and it was so bold. I wrestle with loss in my family, loss in my life – I was a philosophy major in college – and losing and gaining, it’s like the sadness. Number 4 was like a daughter getting married. There’s great sadness because she’s leaving, but great sadness because she’s also gaining. That’s what this is about. I told Tom the same thing—he hadn’t read it. I finished it and I had a real tough time. But I have a lot of other baggage about losing things and how this whole world is. The beginning is emotional! And they trick you with this emotion thing at the beginning to get sucked into it. And then Kaboom is so funny. Everybody new is so wonderful to watch. Why do I even show up though?
Tim Allen is joking with the last part of his comment, but it's worth pointing out that Buzz is actually in Toy Story 4 for fewer major scenes than other movies, simply due to the nature of the plot, which revolves around a new character named Forky, an adventurous trip down an asphalt road and the return of the one and only Bo Peep. However, he gets his own amusing subplot and in addition is very important to Toy Story 4’s ending. Given Toy Story has always been a tale of friendship, that’s exactly how it should be.
Toy Story 4 is in theaters now. Be sure to keep an eye on what Pixar and Disney have coming up next with our full guide.