The toys are back in town and return for the fourth and final installment in Pixar’s most popular property. When the fourth film was announced there was an ounce of hesitation due to the third film feeling so resolute. However, the opportunity to return to the land of Woody and Buzz would be too enticing to not go and watch.
After the toys were given to a new kid, Bonnie, at the end of the third film, Woody has to get used to not being a child’s favourite toy. At Bonnie’s first day of kindergarten she creates a toy out of a spork, pipe cleaners and lollipop sticks and calls it Forky. However Forky has the natural instinct of being trash and keeps trying to throw himself into a bin. It is Woody and the toys job to keep hold of Forky as it has become Bonnie’s favourite toy.
The first three Toy Story films have become so sacred to many generations that the idea of a fourth film is sacrilege. The first three films felt so complete and perfectly fulfills Andy’s story arc. The story of a toy, not thinking he is a toy and the other toys trying to get them back sounds like the plot of the first film. So you have to ask yourself, what is the point of making a new installment to Toy Story? It can’t just be about money as any Pixar film could easily flirt around the billion dollar mark at the box office.
We get to see the return of Bo Peep, who was absent in the third film. She is no longer the quiet, soft spoken Bo Peep of previous but now is a badass action hero that acts a symbol of female empowerment. We also get introduced to some great new characters. Canadian Daredevil Duke Caboom played by Keanu Reeves is as good as it sounds. Caboom is such a great character that steals every scene he is in. There is also Ducky and Bunny played by comedy duo, Key and Peele and they are hilarious in this film. This is probably the funniest Toy Story film. There are so many moments of pure hilarity. There is a wealth of new characters that are brilliant but for every new character some classic side characters are largely absent in the film. Hamm, Slinky, Rex and Jessie are not very well utilised.
Toy Story 4 also has some moments of terror. Seeing the toys being chased by loads of ventriloquist dummies was terrifying. This wasn’t just the funniest Toy Story but also the scariest. Some of the imagery was fear inducing. I don’t know what it is about old toys but they give me the goosebumps. It must be the whole uncanny valley elements of the toys looking almost like humans but I now hate ventriloquist dummies.
The greatest thing about Toy Story and the reason why it is universally liked is the Toy Story charm. The characters, the story and the lessons you learn create this wonderful formula that humanises the toys. Toy Story is full of impactful moments that are powerful and charming. It has created moments that have made me emote more than most films. The scene where Buzz realises he is a toy, Woody watching his old TV show and the incinerator scene in Toy Story 3 are so powerful and rewatching them still hold that power and emotion. There is something so magical to these films and the fourth film also has the same magic. It has some real impactful moments that make you tear up. The connection you get with these CGI toys are so strong and it is amazing that loads of other live action films cannot hold the same relevancy or connection.
Toy Story 4 is another fantastic installment, it has laughter, great new characters and powerful emotional moments. However I still cannot detach from the feeling that this film didn’t need to be made. This felt like a feature length spin off rather than a sequel. It was brilliant and probably the best it could have been but I can’t shake off that this felt like an add on DLC. I think it finally has closed the lid on the franchise (even though they have not fully ruled out a fifth film). To see Buzz and Woody for one final time in the cinema was great to watch. The new characters were funny and a great addition. A funny and another stellar installment in the franchise but it is probably for the best to finally say to this perfect collection of films, so long partner.
Rating – ★★★★