The big question going into Toy Story 4 is: Did we need a fourth entry in this franchise?
I say: “Yes.”
I’d even go as far to say that as long as Pixar keeps inventing new aspects of the toy life cycle for us to explore, they can keep pumping out these films. Toy Story 4 is not only a beautifully animated installment of the franchise, but this one shows us a side of the toys we never stopped to consider.
Do these sentient play things deserve to pursue their own interests when their child no longer needs them? Do their needs, at some point, outweigh our own? The story presents some very interesting and complex questions. It’s a fascinating conflict that I didn’t expect Pixar to explore.
With the “why” now aside, exploring the “how” is just as important. Again, Pixar crushed it.
Animation has come such a long way since the original Toy Story and Pixar didn’t miss this chance to flex their guns. The new look Bo Peep will grow on you, but the biggest improvement was in her sheep. Trust me, if you remember the original art, you’ll be amazed by the upgrade. The creators want you to notice and they make sure to point it out.
As far as laughs go, Toy Story 4 goes for it early and often. Does every joke land? No. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t enough steam in the Pixar engine to cross the finish line.
In fact, if you don’t laugh out loud at Tony Hale’s outstanding Forky performance at least once, you may not be human.
The villain, along with the accompanying motives, make sense. In true Pixar fashion, it is hard to point a finger at a true central conflict. By that, I mean that they do a great job creating multiple conflicts–internal and external–for the heroes to overcome.
As the gang navigates the plot, you may find odd spots where it’s tough to stay “in the movie”. Even in a world with talking, sentient toys, it becomes increasingly unbelievable that they can continuously accomplish the relatively herculean feats they do.
The end feels pretty soft and the rest of Woody’s gang are missed dearly throughout, but the slew of new characters were fun additions. No one is going to mind seeing Key and Peele get their time to shine on the animated stage, but there’s a big hole in this movie that only Buzz, Jessie, Rex and the rest of the gang could have filled.
Pixar missed a chance to really have auditoriums ball their eyes out. All it would have taken is a more involved story for our favorite toy side-kicks. If this truly is the finale for our favorite toys, then it seems that Slinky, Rex, Mr. Potato-Head, Ham, and the rest of the gang won’t be getting their proper send-off after all.
Overall, I don’t have any deal-breaker issues with Toy Story 4. It was visually impressive and made sense from a plot standpoint to add a fourth addition to the franchise.
Pixar continues to do Pixar things which is providing fun, enjoyable, touching films. The studio has created numerous iconic franchises throughout their illustrious history, but the Toy Story franchise might be their crowning jewel. They made us genuinely care about a group of toys as if they were actual living beings and the fourth entry only further solidifies this amazing stories place in cinematic history.
Matrix Grade: 79