Movie Review by Daniel DeRey
Toy Story 4 is the newest chapter in Pixar’s most iconic franchise. The film is directed by Josh Cooley, written by Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom and stars Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Christina Hendricks, Keegan Michael Key, Jordan Peele, and Tony Hale.
Woody and the rest of his friends are now living with their new owner, Bonnie, but when Bonnie creates a new toy named Forky (out of a spork she found in the garbage), she has a new best friend. The problem is that Forky doesn’t want to be a toy and tries to escape every chance he gets, and Woody makes it his mission to bring Forky back to Bonnie. Woody meets new friends, faces new foes, and even comes across his old flame, Bo Peep.
Like many people I was very skeptical about whether or not this film should exist. Toy Story 3 ended the series on such a perfect note that it helped the Toy Story movies become one of the most celebrated film trilogies of all time. I was honestly planning on boycotting this movie before I decided that I wanted to review it on this blog. I am relieved to say that this movie does not ruin the other films (for the most part), and it is a decently made film, although I still do not feel like this movie had a reason to exist.
The plot is pretty par for the course as far as Toy Story films go. One of the toys is on a search party and then has to complete their search/mission before their child/owner travels away. There aren’t any real twists and turns in the film, and most of what you get is very straightforward. People who loved the ending of Toy Story 3 might not appreciate certain additions to the plot that make Toy Story 4’s relatively satisfying ending necessary. In other words, the movie had to create an issue (ruin the last movie’s ending) in order to justify making a new conclusion for a brand new Toy Story film.
Speaking on the characters and their voice acting performances, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen do a great job as usual as Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Honestly those two could play those characters in their sleep if they wanted to. Woody is just as reliable, headstrong, and brave as he was in the other movies, but sadly Buzz felt a bit different then before. In previous films, Buzz seemed to be Woody’s second in command, who could take charge if Woody was not present. In this one, Buzz seemed less sure of himself with leads to a running gag with him taking advice from his recorded catchphrases. Annie Potts returns as the voice of Bo Peep, and her character and voice work is a million times better than it was in the first two Toy Story films. The writers of the film have successfully turned a likable but stock female character into a free spirited, adventurous, and really enjoyable heroine. Her chemistry with Woody is fantastic and really keeps the movie entertaining and also dramatic.
Sadly, the other returning characters like Jesse, Mr. Potato Head, Rex, etc, barely have lines and are mostly relegated to keeping guard while the main characters are away. For what should be the new finale of the series, the lack of use of those characters was really disappointing. However, all of the new characters were very solid and also had their own moments to shine. The new character of Forky (Tony Hale) had some funny scenes and lines of dialogue that made him entertaining as the focal point of the movie. The characters of Ducky and Bunny played by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are as hilarious as one might expect, but it never feels like two new characters as much as it feels like Key and Peele doing their traditional shtick, just with stuffed animals. Another hilarious scene-stealer is the Canadian toy stuntman, Duke Caboom, played by the Internet’s boyfriend, Keanu Reeves. Reeves gets to showcase a lot of personality in this role that we usually do not get to see from him in other movies, and his overly dramatic backstory is one of the film’s comedic highlights. The villain of the film, Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), was very well utilized and had a nice arc that made her sympathetic, though not as memorable of an antagonist as Sid, Stinky Pete, or Lotso in the other movies.
In conclusion, Toy Story 4 is not a bad movie. It is reasonably well done, but it is not nearly up to the same caliber as the other three films that came before it. The new characters get a few good laughs, and there are some exciting and intense scenes, but the whole film feels less grand and important then its predecessors. The people at Pixar said they would only make a fourth Toy Story if they had a story to tell. They did tell a story but it was not a story that could live up to the greatness of its own earlier films. If you are obsessed with Toy Story and Disney and will die if you do not know what happens to the characters, I will say you should still see it. If you are someone who adamantly believes that Pixar should have stopped this series after Toy Story 3, there is not a lot that you are missing. Toy Story 4 is a decent movie for kids, but very lacking when compared to the three that came before it and I’m going to give it a B-.
See ya at the next show,