“Toy Story 4” and Lasseter Family Wines

Originally published in “West Hawaii Today” on June 28, 2019

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The Film: “Toy Story 4”

“Toy Story 4″ is a little bit of everything. Funny, engaging, emotional, well-written, beautifully crafted, and as part four sequels go, one of the best of all time.

Tom Hanks provides the leadership and charm as, “Woody,” the talking pull toy cowboy with a heart of gold and a willingness to serve others. He gathers his gang together including a new member, “Forky” created out of trash in kindergarten by the young girl of the house. He keeps jumping into trash receptacles because that’s all he knows.

Forky is hilarious as he finds his purpose in the “Toy Story” world without self-destructing. That’s the heart and soul of this charming sequel because as families change and grow older, so do their toys.

Even Woody seems a bit lost and looking for direction, but before you can say, “road trip,” the toys find themselves in a family RV visiting the countryside and stopping near a small town where they encounter an antique store filled with dolls without children.

It’s an odd, creepy moment in “Toy Story 4” when three tuxedoed ventriloquist dolls who resemble Joaquin Phoenix are seen pushing an antique stroller with a girl doll ordering them around. It’s spooky and makes sense when you think these dolls have not had any child like interaction for decades.

All to make the point, life decisions have to be made by both humans and toys, and in this movie the choices are profound. What is my purpose in life? Do I serve others or serve myself? Maybe it’s a combination of both, but “Toy Story 4” isn’t afraid to ask.

And just when you thought everything was getting much too serious, along comes, Duke Caboom, a Canadian daredevil toy voiced perfectly by Keanu Reeves. He leaps, he jumps, he helps save the other toys with reckless abandon, and it’s a joy to watch.

And finally, “Toy Story 4” is emotional for all the right reasons. A crying lost child at a county fair, a toy in need of a child, a bittersweet reunion between Woody and Bo Peep, and sometimes it’s that remarkable image of joy when a toy and child bond.

Part four sequels are almost impossible to make on the same level as the original, and parts one through three in this series were magical.

Happily, “Toy Story 4” fits neatly into this cinematic toy box.

– Gary Cogill

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The Pairing: Lasseter Family Winery “Reminiscence”

The whole gang is back in this whimsical celebration highlighting the ever-present need for unconditional friendship as voiced by the long-time musical voice of the “Toy Story” films, Randy Newman. His “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” once again sets the tone, underscoring the importance of leaning on others when you are in need. And recognizing the gifts long-lasting friendships deliver, often by just being there.

The first “Toy Story” came to life under the direction of American animator John Lasseter, who was making his feature film directorial debut, while co-writing the script. It was the first entirely computer-animated feature-length film and the first feature film from Pixar.

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Around the same time, John Lasseter and his wife Nancy found a 95-acre estate in the Sonoma Valley that would provide a laid back, small-town attitude ideal for raising their five children. Though producing wine wasn’t the focus when they purchased the property, the winemaking bug, that bites so many of us, eventually struck and the family began Lasseter Family Winery in the early 2000s.

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Determined to create an environmentally friendly vineyard they brought in a master of organic farming and vineyard management, Phil Coturri, who has helped the family achieve organic vineyard certification, ensuring each block of fruit express the unique terroir of their historical site.

Blending Bordeaux varieties, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, Lasseter Family “Reminiscence” acknowledges the history of their land and winemakers that were farming Sonoma Valley vineyards over 120 years ago, recognizing the quality of their soils, producing premium wines. The “Reminiscence” evokes an Old World style, showing restraint, with structure, texture, and balance, ensuring enjoyment for years to come, pairing with “Toy Story 4” honors the film’s nostalgia, sentiment, and exceptional age-ability.

– Hayley Hamilton Cogill

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