In 1995, Pixar Animation Studios released Toy Story, the first feature-length computer-animated film released in theaters. It was a film that everyone loved, from kids to adults, and it would be the beginning of Pixar’s rise as a dominant animation studio. It spawned a massive franchise that included video games, spin-off cartoons, TV specials, and, of course, sequels. Toy Story 2 is actually one of my favorite animated movies that I’ve watched more than I can remember and Toy Story 3 was a perfect conclusion for the series. Well, there’s now a fourth movie and like a lot of people, I was skeptical about this. I originally said that I wasn’t going to see it, but after the reviews came out and they were majorly positive, I decided to check it out. So how is the movie? Well, let’s find out. This is Toy Story 4.
Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the gang are now toys living with Bonnie. At kindergarten orientation, Bonnie creates a new toy named Forky. As Bonnie and her family set out on a road trip, Forky gets lost and Woody sets out to look for him. Before going into this movie, I had my doubts. But boy, did they surprise me here. Like a lot of Pixar movies, this has some good writing. While it does retread familiar territory, it does it so well that I don’t even care. I like these characters and I was interested in seeing where they would do. The best way to go into this movie is to think of it as an epilogue instead of a conclusion.
This movie has one of Tom Hanks’ best performances as Woody. This time around, he’s no longer Andy’s toy, but Bonnie’s, and he wants Bonnie to be happy. So when Forky, Bonnie’s favorite toy, gets lost, Woody is determined to get him back to Bonnie. At the same time, he faces an existential crisis when he’s reunited with Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who has been a lost toy. This is essentially Woody’s story, the rest of the gang are pretty much set into the background. Speaking of, is it just me or did they turn Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) into an idiot? Through most of the movie, Buzz has been using his buttons to guide him along. In terms of new characters, I liked all of them, even the ones who I thought was gonna annoy me. Forky is kinda adorable in his naiveté view of the world. There’s Ducky and Bunny, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele respectively, and they had me laughing from start to finish. They weren’t just the black stereotypes that they appeared to be like in the trailers. Our lord and savior Keanu Reeves voices Duke Caboom and he was a delight. Even the villain is pretty good, Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks). All she wants is to be some kid’s toy and when she’s rejected by that kid, I kinda felt bad for her. I liked the direction that they went with that character because you don’t see that happen a lot with these antagonist types.
24 years makes a huge difference, especially in the technology used for animation. Compare the animation of Toy Story 4 to the original and you’ll notice a HUGE upgrade. The backgrounds look gorgeously realistic and the human characters look human.
This is also one hilarious movie. Not just from the side characters, but from the situations set up. There’s this part where Buzz, Bunny, and Ducky are formulating a plan to get a key and when the latter two present their plan, three scenarios play out with the same conclusion, them attacking the owner of the antique shop that they’re in. Dude, I lost it every time. I was still laughing after those scenes, they were that funny. Okay, so what about the ending? It was said that the ending of the movie was really emotional, similar to the ending of the third movie. So what happened? At the end, all of the toys have reunited with each other and when Bonnie’s family are ready to leave, Woody decides to stay behind with Bo Peep, so he says his goodbye to the rest of the gang. It was a genuinely emotional moment, but it didn’t hit me as hard as the ending of the third movie did. That’s just me.
I give Toy Story 4 a strong 9/10. Pixar managed to do something I didn’t think would happen: have a perfect film quadrilogy. While I still think Toy Story 3 is the best of the series, 4 is still great in terms of animation, writing, and characters. It served as a pretty good ending for one of Pixar’s most beloved characters. Check it out if you haven’t. It’s worth a watch. Hopefully, this will be the last of the Toy Story movies because I feel like they’ve exhausted all of the story potential of the franchise. Well, the next film from Pixar is an original story, so that’s a good sign.