In 1995, while I was a wee 2 year old, Disney and Pixar brought to life a film that would spark life into a franchise bigger than I’m sure anyone involved would’ve imagined. A film that brought on the idea that toys, while their children were away, had full-fledged personalities and carried on with quite a bit of their own adventures. Toy Story (1995) is credited by many, including myself, as being one of the most revered and iconic animation flicks of all time. Subsequently, Toy Story 2 (1999) and penultimately Toy Story 3 (2011) concluded the story of protagonist Andy and his band of misfit toy pals. With the ending of Toy Story 3, many assumed this would be the last we’d see of the bunch, as the series was wrapped up more beautifully and rightfully than most trilogies I’ve maybe ever seen. But, that wasn’t quite enough for Disney. Here we are, in 2019, and we’re reviewing a Toy Story 4. (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Set very shortly after the events that concluded the third, TS4 tells the tale of Woody and friends as they discover that lost toy (Bo Peep) may not be so lost after all. Along the way, we’re introduced to copious amounts of new toys (a few noteworthy being voiced by the likes of Keanu Reeves, Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele) many of which do a fine job of bringing in the laughs. What you’ll notice right away, though, is just how little we hear from most of the original “toy cast”. The one and only space ranger Buzz Lightyear actually has less lines in this film than newly introduced side characters, which was saddening to say the least.
The story itself is where this one begins to lose me. The plot teeters along chaotically, with sprinkled in laughs and emotional moments, but feels altogether a bit..lost? Our driving character in this film is undoubtedly Woody, who we watch go through personal conflict that ultimately means quite a bit for the future of the series as a whole. Is it emotional? At brief moments, yes. However, would I say it packs near the weighty punch that it’s most recent predecessor (or the two prior, for that matter) packed? No, I will confidently say no.
To me, it all feels like Toy Story 4 existed not because there was a story here that needed to be told; but rather that there were several millions of dollars that could be made. As a lover of almost all things Pixar/Disney, I’ll leave you with this. If you’re hoping for TS4 to be the roller coaster of emotions that 3 was, you may unfortunately be let down. But if you wouldn’t mind watching a tale about Sheriff Woody learning what it means to “be alive” or to watch Keanu Reeves be a plastic Canadian stuntman, then I think you may leave with at least a smile. For altogether feeling weaker than its predecessors, but still netting the occasional laugh or tear, I give Toy Story 4 a 6.8/10. Thanks as always for reading this one, and until Spider-Man: Far From Home,
Peep, out 👋🏼