Pixar has really proven that they know how to go to Infinity and Beyond with creating emotionally rich story. Toy Story 4 had a lot to live up to. The Toy Story trilogy is one of the most celebrated and beloved franchises of all time. The first Toy Story is a groundbreaking achievement in animation and significant milestone cementing its place in history as the first fully CG animated film. And with that being said, the first Toy Story is probably my least favourite of the 3. Each film after that first one just got better in its story and developing a deeper and emotionally rich cast of colourful characters. Toy Story 3 ended things on such a beautiful note. Andy had moved on and so had Woody. A perfect ending, or so we thought. Toy Story 4 was a movie I don’t think many people were asking for. It’s not like The Incredibles were everyone was clamoring for another one, Toy Story 3 was a satisfying ending to a near perfect trilogy. Toy Story 4 had a lot of people worried that it wouldn’t live up to the trilogy. But if history has shown that being the “Doubting Pixar” business is not a good business to be in. Pixar is the best studio out there and not just in animation. I’m talking live-action and animation. There is no studio out there that has put out this many consistently great films that are boundary-pushing, hits emotional levels that storytellers could only dream of telling, and yet be so fun for everyone in the family to enjoy. Toy Story 4 is no exception to Pixar’s incredible work and deepens the legacy of the Toy Story films. Toy Story 4 is one of the best Pixar movies, plain and simple.
Toy Story 4 clearly wasn’t just a quick cash grab, there was a story to tell here. Toy Story 3 was the end to Andy’s story, Toy Story 4 is about concluding Woody’s story. The story here was genuine and carried weight to it. It really felt like all the other films and the journey we’ve seen Woody take for over 20 years now has built to this moment. The story team over at Pixar crafted a story that feels earned and like a proper progression in the overarching journey of Woody. Here we dive into themes of what does it mean to be a toy and to live a life in service of someone and what does it mean to fulfill that purpose in life. This is not just your run of the mill kids movies. Like most Pixar movies, they ask big questions and go deep with there themes. I once heard someone say “Pixar doesn’t make kids movies, they make kid-friendly movies” and I don’t think a statement could be truer.
Bonnie brings home a new toy she made on her first day of preschool, a spork named Forky. Forky, however, struggles with a bit of an identity problem thinking he belongs in the trash and not as a toy. Woody makes it his personal mission to make sure nothing happens to Forky as he is the most important toy to Bonnie right now. So when Forky jumps out of a moving RV, Woody must go on a journey with Forky to return him to Bonnie. Woody throughout Toy Story 4 gets a chance to revisit all the lessons from the previous three films and we as an audience are reminded of much he has grown and how invested we’ve been in this character’s path. Along the way, Woody runs into an old friend that he hasn’t seen in a very long time, Bo Peep. This is a new and improved Bo Peep from the last time we saw her. She was a great addition to this movie, adding a lot of energy and depth to the weight of the film. Her relationship with Woody and how it has evolved over the years was one of the best parts of the movie.
Our main core group of toys is a little sidelined in this story. They are given things to do throughout the film, but not a whole lot. I would have been upset with this if it weren’t for the incredible set of new toys we get to spend the majority of the movie with. I loved every single one of these new characters. Key and Peele as Ducky and Bunny are perhaps the funniest characters in any Toy Story movie. They were so on point with the writing and timing of their jokes. As mentioned Forky, as the existential, sometimes suicidal spork was a weird addition, but a unique one that was creative and worked well in the movie. Tony Hale is also just a perfect casting choice for the character. Duke Caboom, Canada’s greatest stuntman was awesome. That’s the best word I have to describe him, awesome. Keanu Reeves is just the coolest guy. I’m also a sucker for a good Canadian joke and his character plays right into the stereotypes and I ate it up.
Like many Pixar films, be prepared for an emotional ending and a few other scenes sprinkled throughout. I don’t think this movie hits the emotional highs of the third movie, but not many films do. Toy Story 4 harkens back to the first movie with a bit of a unique tone for a kids movie. Very much like the first Toy Story, Toy Story 4 has a bit of a horror movie vibe going for it. The villain of the movie has ventriloquist dummies has her henchmen and just how they move and walk is very unnerving. Not only that, not to go into detail, but her “evil plan” is a little scary when you think about it. Obviously I won’t say what it is, but definitely, I’ve seen a plot similar to it in a horror movie before. But even the villain, Gabby Gabby, is not who she seems like she is. There are layers to her that go much deeper than I expected the film to go with her.
Toy Story 4 is at the moment, the best movie of 2019. We are at the halfway point of the year and Toy Story 4 is the best of the bunch so far. I have essentially no issues with this movie. Maybe if you were hoping to see more of the original cast of characters, you may be a little disappointed, but the new group of toys we spend time with are so much fun, it’s hard to even call that a complaint. Toy Story 4 delivers on a satisfying conclusion (and probably the last conclusion we will get from this franchise) and emotional story that can compete with the best of Pixar. Go see Toy Story 4.