Pixar returns with the fourth part in the Toy Story franchise. This time around, the toys belong to Bonnie after Andy gave them away at the end of Toy Story 3. Bonne begins her first day of integration at kindergarten, and Bonne makes a new toy called Forky. Forky believes that he is trash, so Woody needs to help him find his calling and be there for Bonnie. But when Bonnie’s family goes on a road trip, Woody and the gang go on several adventures, one that will lead Woody to a sweet reunion with an old friend and a journey of self-discovery…
The first Toy Story is my all time favorite animated film, and the sequels are all terrific. The trilogy is near perfect and the fourth parts of franchises are usually unnecessary or not as good as the previous ones. So going into 4, I was nervous. But I’m happy to say that this movie is tons of fun and it’s extremely funny, heartfelt and I think I prefer this movie to Toy Story 3.
Let’s start with the cons so we can get these out of the way. The supporting characters of the previous film do take a backseat here and they don’t do as much. Other than Buzz, the others aren’t as important in the overall narrative. I get it, Disney wants to introduce new characters so they won’t always have to rely on the old ones if they do make a sequel. That’s understandable. They did the same with The Force Awakens. The movie does feel a bit episodic at times and while it didn’t feel like a retread, it never felt as fresh or as original as the first time around. No Toy Story sequel has in my opinion and that’s not necessarily a flaw, but for that reason, it did not blow me out of the water.
Also, the character of Forky, while I did warm up to his character, at first was very annoying. There was too much screen time attributed to him, but once the character realizes his purpose he becomes more likeable. It just takes a while to get there, unfortunately.
Now the pros. The animation is gorgeous. This is a superbly well-directed film and it’s full of vibrant and beautiful colors. This is Josh Cooley’s first directorial effort and what a brilliant first film. It’s touching, heartwarming and it’s got a ton of laughs and surprises along the way. All the scenes in the Carnival and the antique store we’re great as they serve for the main locations of the film’s runtime. The carnival makes for a really fresh and interactive setting with our heroes.
All the new characters were good, but the one that stole the show for me was Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom was freaking hilarious. He was certainly one of my favorite parts of this film and you can just tell that Reeves had an extremely fun time with this character. Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key we’re great additions to the cast as well, as Bunny and Ducky and they provided a lot of laughs. The villain of this film also is pretty well fleshed out and menacing and it feels different from the others in a good way and Christina Hendricks does well in the role as Gabby Gabby, a doll who is defective and who wants affection.
The character of Bo Beep, is the best she’s ever been. Her arc in this movie is incredible and you can tell that the writers of this film catered the film around her and that this is her story. Woody also changes throughout the film. He’s a very different Woody then he was in the first Toy Story and that leads to this film finale. Tom Hanks is Woody. He’s so good in the role and he’s become the character and these films are one of the best things he’s ever done.
The finale was extremely touching and satisfying. While Pixar can do a fifth part, it also can be seen as a fitting conclusion to the saga as a whole. This movie is worthy of the Toy Story legacy and that’s a relief.
Overall, Toy Story 4 is a very entertaining, solid sequel that introduces new characters and a new setting and despite feeling a bit episodic at times, brings back all the fun, excitement and heart that we’ve all come to expect from this epic film saga.