Film Review: Toy Story 4

You got a friend in me…

When Disney/Pixar first announced that Toy Story 4 was going to be made, I, like many other people were skeptical. Toy Story 3 had ended on such a high note, and on such a perfect ending. And when Disney/Pixar announced yet another sequel, a lot of people, including me, thought it was nothing more than another cash grab.

It didn’t help either that Pixar’s offerings of late had been mixed. Inside out was great, but Coco was merely alright I thought and the Good Dinosaur was outright awful. The sequels/prequels were better but also relied on familiarity, not originality. Monsters University, Finding Dory, and Incredibles 2 were all above average films. Maybe even great. But they were all set in worlds we had seen before. As for Cars 3, that was just hot trash.

I can say Pixar knocked it out of the park with this one.

Let’s start with the tech. And what a start it was. The opening scene in the rain is one of the most impressive flexes of CGI I have ever seen. Ditto the chandelier scene. The textures and lighting are simply out of this world. We’ve come a looooong way from Toy Story 1. The only real issue, and it might not even be an issue to some people, is the design of the humans in the film. It’s a stylistic choice, but the way Pixar render humans (see Inside Out, Coco, Good Dinosaur) just doesn’t quite mesh with the hyper-realistic way the world is rendered. Just a minor gripe.

As for the story, the narrative time focuses much more on Woody and his journey on what it means to be a toy. In that sense, the plot parallels that of the first movie, where Woody gets supplanted by a newer toy, and the troubles, both inner and outer and go into dealing with this change in order. But while Toy Story 1’s Woody is selfish and unwilling to change with the times, 4’s Woody is much more mature and understanding that it’s not about him- it’s about the kid. He understands that he isn’t the star, that kids grow up and tastes change. In fact, Woody helps create the new toy. He is the mentor figure, and his journey comes full circle as he comes to terms with the fact that he can become obsolete and his well-being is not at stake.

4 also brings back Bo Peep, explaining what has become of her since the events of 2. In keeping with the times, she’s much more strong willed and resourceful. It’s a welcome change, and her cynicism regarding toys and their owners is a perfect foil to Woody’s almost slavish devotion to their kids. Their relationship and reconciliation with each other make up the other half of the movie where Woody comes to terms with just what he wants to do with his life.

Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of the other characters. Buzz, Jessie, Hamm, Rex, Mr Potato Head (RIP Don Rickles)… they all get drastically reduced screen time and lines as a result of the focus on Woody and Bo Peep. It’s a shame but the choice was well justified. It’s just sad though, knowing this is the last we may even see of these wonderful characters.

Of the new characters, Gabby Gabby easily stands out as the best of them. Her character arc is the best written and she is easily the best antagonist in all of the Toy Story movies. She’s not a villain, there’s no real villain in this film. Everyone’s just a victim of circumstance in this film. Forky, the other main newcomer, is a hodgepodge put together “toy” that is coming to terms with his creation and his existence as a toy. Ducky and Bunny, played by Key and Peele provide ample comic relief, as does Duke, a Canadian Motor cycle riding toy voiced by Keanu Reeves. Giggle McDimples is a Polly Pocket style toy that plays sidekick to Bo Peep that really isn’t fleshed out enough. Oh well.

With Toy Story 4, Pixar showed why they’re still the standard to beat when it comes to CGI films. Their technical wizardry and storytelling are head and shoulders above everyone else, despite the missteps of recent years. Toy Story 4 is every bit as good as the last 3, and while 3 had perhaps the better ending, 4 is every bit as good at closing out Woody’s chapter in what I consider to be one of the best movie series put to film.

Objective: 9.5/10

Personal: 9.5/10


WRITTEN BY silogore