Rating – ★★★½
Initially, I scoffed at the idea of another Toy Story movie. Thinking to myself what could they possibly do to justify adding to something that seemed to have wrapped itself up. Although not the perfect movie, Toy Story 3 had the most perfect ending, finally putting some closure to Pixar’s predominant franchise. Now, almost a decade later, Pixar feels that there is still a story to be told.
I should probably start off by saying that Toy Story 4 is a seriously fun time at the cinema. It’s the funniest of the four by some margin (with the comedy being aimed more towards the older audience) and certainly looks the best in the way of its visual style. A franchise in which you can see the development since its first instalment was released almost 25 years ago, and it’s an incredible transformation. Regardless as to wether or not you feel Toy Story 3 was the perfect send off, Pixar have managed to create something that most viewers would consider a worthy follow up. For me, the story still treads the line of similarity with its previous trilogy. Our beloved characters (most noticeably Woody) have a crisis of feeling unimportant and question their lives as an unused toy, there’s a rescue mission and an evil villain who’s long life of being left on the shelf is leading to severe jealousy. On top of this, with the introduction to a handful of new characters, most of the franchise favourites are unforgivingly resorted to mere support roles.
Front and centre of the newcomers is Forky. A ‘toy’ spork Bonnie had made out of items found in the trash. The issue with Forky is that he has homicidal tendencies (yeah, this film is dark) and wishes to live whatever life it has left as a piece of trash. With the help of Woody though, Forky starts to realise his importance to Bonnie and accepts his new fate and responsibility. The other is Gabby Gabby. A creepy doll with even creepier intentions. A doll who is tired of wandering around an old antique store, desperate to go home with a child, which is never likely given her voice box has broken. It isn’t these two characters who are the most memorable from the newbies however, as that accolade belongs to Duke Caboom (voiced by Keanu Reeves) and Ducky and Bunny (voiced by comedy duo Keegan-Micheal Key and Jordan Peele). It’s with these characters that the films hilarity, largely becomes reliant, but it effortlessly delivers on that aspect.
Of the franchise old-timers, there’s not a great deal to discuss aside from Woody and Bo Peep. Woody as always is the voice of reason and unexpectedly the moral of the story falls primarily on his shoulders. This time however, Bo is back and given a much better character arc after her disappearance since Toy Story 2. I consider her return to the series to be the main reason for this sequels existence. Buzz Lightyear has a few shining moments, but very little in comparison to the prior trilogy in which he has been a crucial part. For me this is where the film manages to forget its roots, by focusing on the new, it ironically breaks into the very fear that these toys have. Being ignored and of no use.
Much like the previous instalments, Toy Story 4 loves to play with your emotions. It’s a sweet and clever, but often dark movie in which kids and adults alike can relate to and find plenty of enjoyment from. I personally believe there wasn’t a completely justifiable reason for this movies existence, especially given the undeniably fitting end to the trilogy. It is the weakest of the four, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a riot of a time watching it. ‘Another’ tear-jerker of an ending to once again close a franchise that will forever be remembered, to infinity…