By Dawson Martin
9 years ago, we watched a perfect “conclusion” to an amazing trilogy of animated films. I guess Disney/Pixar just wanted to make more money on this franchise because Toy Story 4 need not exist. Toy Story 3 had such a perfect ending and in my opinion, it should have been the way to close the book on this story. This movie was a possible cash grab. Nonetheless, I was so excited to see Buzz and Woody on the big screen again. Pixar Animation has made countless hits over the years and you probably loved several as a kid or even now as an adult. How could we not want another Toy Story?
Toy Story 4 starts out with a flashback sequence providing you information for something that’s probably going to come back up later in the film. After that, the movie comes back to present time and it really starts moving. This is such a fast-paced film and it’s done really well. The animation is absolutely top notch and at times mind blowing. Animation has come a long way since the first Toy Story (1995). Seriously, go back and watch that first film and compare it to present day technology. It’s simply incredible how they make animated objects and environments such as muddy water look like the real thing. Everything is so photorealistic and detailed. Toy Story 4 showcases what Pixar can really do with animation and its worth seeing for the visuals alone! The only worry I had with this fourth installment was the story. How could you start this story back up again and if so, how is it going to add and build story to make it better? The story had to be worthy of telling and it had to have the same emotional pathos from the others.
Did the story earn itself to be told? The answer is, for the most part. This is probably the funniest Toy Story ever made and there’s so much fun to be had here. It certainly did have a message and there was an emotional backbone to the story that’s very important for fans of this franchise. The toys are with Bonnie now and they all go on a road trip with her and a few new friends. Forky is a new addition and I think he did his job well. I was worried he was going to annoy me and not be a character up to Pixar’s standards. All in all, Forky was just a side character and plot device to set this story in motion with the other characters. I do feel like original characters that have been there all these years took a backseat to other certain characters. There’s not much to see of Rex, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Slinky Dog, or Hamm. The new characters are very fun to watch, such as Ducky and Bunny voiced by the comedic duo of “Key and Peele”. Keanu Reeves was also a welcome addition playing Duke Caboom, a Canadian stunt motorcyclist. Even with all these new toys, I would say Woody takes the front seat in this film and he stays in it all the way to the credits. His character has a lot of interesting arcs and choices that really drive the movie along. The one thing that I think will divide some audiences is the ending. Toy Story 3 was such a perfect ending and it would be near impossible to top that. The way they conclude this story hurts. It hurts me emotionally and logically. I can’t go into spoilers, but the ending really holds this film back for me. It feels out of place and just out of tone from the trilogy that came before.
Was this movie a “cash grab”? Yes, it was definitely a cash grab. That’s not a bad thing, though. It’s a very good cash grab and I’m glad it exists. The story is worthy of being told (besides the conclusion) and the film feels fresh and exciting. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen’s voice work was amazing as always. I’m pretty sure this is the last Toy Story film, at least the last that follows the Woody/Buzz storyline. I don’t see how you can continue this story based on how the characters ended up. Honestly, with the way it ended I don’t want to see anymore from this story. It’s probably the end of a 24-year-old franchise and that’s a very sad thing. At least we have 4 films and “Toy Story Land” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or we’d all have lesser lives without these amazing films.
Toy Story 4 was fresh and exciting with some very memorable moments. Pixar made a very funny and heartfelt cash grab that probably didn’t need to be made. I didn’t like how the story ended, but that may not be the case for you. Also, I’m not going to rate this film any lower just for the mixed ending because I enjoyed the movie thoroughly, thus it earned an 8.5 out of 10.
One last thing: Stay for the credits to hear Chris Stapleton’s new song for the film “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy”.
Photo Credits: Wikepedia.com