WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Toy Story 4, in theaters now.
As with every entry in the franchise, Toy Story 4 introduces a handful of new toys. Duke Kaboom (Keanu Reeves) and Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) are both compelling additions, offering new perspectives on existence as a toy within this world. Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele) may not share their level of depth, but they more than make up for it by being some of the most unique and entertaining characters in the entire series.
Given their unique perspective, genuine rapport and sheer absurd sense of humor, any future Toy Story specials or spinoffs should be focused on Ducky and Bunny.
Ducky and Bunny, unlike most of the toys that have been introduced in the Toy Story franchise, seem to straddle a strange line. Most of the toys that are introduced either know fully well that they're toys and what rules they have to follow, or they come into the world unaware of their status. The first Toy Story even centered on Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) not understanding that distinction. Woody (Tom Hanks) and the other toys, however, all seem to know what role they're meant to play in the world, i.e. not openly interacting with humans.
Ducky and Bunny, however, are the first ones to reject that reality outright. They're keenly aware that they are toys. But, they've spent their whole lives as unwon prizes at a carnival sideshow game. They've never really had to interact with humans before. Which means when it comes time to trying to figure out a plan to steal a key from the human owner of an antique shop, their go-to idea is to just attack her and steal it. It's met with stunned silence each time they suggest it, but it's fun to see a toy finally bring up the obvious: Why don't they just prove they're real? It worked wonders in the climax of the first film, these two just want to take it a step further.
Ducky and Bunny are inseparable. Literally. The pair are sewn together at the hand, forcing them to be a constant double act. This gives them a lived-in rapport that hasn't been seen as frequently in the Toy Story films. It's reminiscent at times of the Woody/Buzz dynamic, which was underplayed in both Toy Story 3 and this current installment. They tease each other but are constantly after the same goal. When Ducky believes Bunny has been torn apart (in reality, he's just lost a little fluff), he has an outright breakdown at the idea of his friend being gone.
It helps that the pair are voiced by comedy duo, Key and Peele. The pair have such an ingrained sense of chemistry that they built an entire sketch series out of it. Their reunion here sees them on-point, constantly one-upping each another and having a blast while they do it. It's hard to imagine the pair not recording their lines together, with the back-and-forth between the pair refined even with such little time in the overall franchise. They feel like distinct characters, the kind Pixar has always excelled at creating.
COMIC TOUR DE FORCE
At the end of the day, Ducky and Bunny really stand out from the rest of the toys by just being hilarious. Other Toy Story characters are funny. Actually, most of them are. But no other characters are so defined by their comic sensibilities. Toy Story 4 is frequently the funniest film in the franchise. The stakes are lower in this film than any other in the franchise, so the producers lean more into the sillier character beats.
Ducky and Bunny are the perfect vessels for that approach. The pair drop snarky comments frequently but are always quickly undercut by the world around them. Their fantasies are usually quick and hilarious asides, and then reality throws them around for a laugh.
The film ends with the pair inducted into a new group of toys. Woody, Bo, Duke and Giggles elect to stay with the carnival, helping other toys finally be won by children. Ducky and Bunny are a part of the group, quickly establishing themselves as the boisterous comic relief, a good contrast to the more serious other members. Seeing them bounce off of the more rule-bound Woody or the no-nonsense Bo would be a comic delight.
The final moments of the film even hint at how they work when put against a straight man, playing them off the surprisingly gullible Duke. If there needs to be any more Toy Story stories, let them at least heavily feature the last breath of fresh air added to the franchise.
Directed by Josh Cooley, Toy Story 4 stars Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Keanu Reeves, Annie Potts, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Jeff Pidgeon, Blake Clark, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele and Tony Hale.