Toy Story 4 is an emotional and hilarious ride from start to finish, it’s so entertaining and has (almost) everything that we love from a Toy Story movie. It’s a light, fun adventure which has grounded emotional beats and great (almost human) character development. The film tackles the familiar themes of the toys purpose in life, moving on and finding where you belong. All of these themes are channeled through Woody’s character ‘roundup’ (if you will). The film focuses mainly on Woody here, while seemingly benching most of the original cast to the subplot to make room for hilarious, new and colourful characters. Although the new characters are great, I wish we got to see more from the characters I grew up with like Jessie, Bullseye, Rex and Mr Potato Head. This resulted in the emotional pull not being as strong as it could’ve been as we almost forget about these characters who have been waiting in an RV until the end of the film. With the disappointment of not having the OG’s apart of the story, what makes up for it was having Bo Peep front and centre and being the best she’s ever been in the franchise. We get to dive deep into her character and she was used to drive the narrative by challenging Woody on his firm beliefs. This gives older audience members like myself a lot of nostalgia and it was nice to give one of the main characters purpose. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Buzz Lightyear, who despite having his own little mission, also felt somehow sidelined.
Introduction Of New Characters
The fourth addition to the franchise introduces fun, creative characters that you love all the way through. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as Ducky and Bunny made some hilarious parts. The real light shone on new toy: Forky. Only Pixar could make an entire audience fall in love with a Spork. It was nice to see Woody stop being selfish, acknowledging he’s not the favourite anymore and instead teaching Forky responsibility by shedding light on what it means, to him, to be a toy.
The classic Toy Story antagonist approach is done very well in the fourth addition with horrifyingly creepy antique toys following in the footsteps of Sid, Stinky Pete and Lotso, but this time with an unexpected twist that really supported the lesson of the story.
Visually, Toy Story 4 is the most stunning yet and so photo realistic. The fabric on the the characters, the backgrounds, and the lighting all look gorgeous. So many textures and colours can be found in here, and you almost forget you’re watching an animation and we literally see these toys come to life. This is a beautiful movie to look at and makes you feel so warm and like a kid again.
The Right Way to End The Franchise?
I had been preparing myself mentally after seeing things like ’emotionally devastated’ circulating online. Having sobbed at Toy Story 3, I tried to think what they could possibly do to top it off. However, the final emotional beat of the movie didn’t really do it for me. Sure, throughout the film things like the music really played well with my nostalgia with ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’ playing at the beginning. However, this ending wasn’t enough to make me cry and I think this is due to the lack of the original characters in the plot. This is why I feel like the proper ending to the franchise should have been Toy Story 3.
Another problem with this film is it gets a little bit repetitive in the 2nd act. Woody will accomplish his goal of saving Forky out of the antiques store and then somehow ends up having to do that again. Fortunately the situations the toys find themselves in is unique each time. It feels a little bit reminiscent of Toy Story 3 in parts which made me feel even more that this was not the right end to the franchise.
A Good Pixar Movie?
Despite my bold statement of Toy Story 4 not being as strong a finale as the previous third film and not necessarily needed, it was really great to see the characters we love with new characters one last time. I don’t think it was an emotional end to the franchise, that falls with Toy Story 3. But I do think it is a worthy addition, and a great Toy Story adventure (or even spinoff) overall for all ages to enjoy.