TOY STORY 4 Movie Review: How Does Pixar's Latest Film Measure Up? | Fanboys Anonymous

TOY STORY 4 Movie Review: How Does Pixar's Latest Film Measure Up?

Posted by Anthony Mango Sunday, June 23, 2019
Toy Story has always been one of my 3 favorite Disney films (the other two being Aladdin and The Lion King—lucky me for this year's film slate, right?) and the trilogy is pretty much one of the only examples I can think of wherein the third wasn't a disappointment, or the series didn't take a dip in the middle, or take the first film to get the ball rolling.

All three films were great, so when Toy Story 4 was announced, I was equal parts hesitant to trust that it was a good idea, and confident they'd be able to pull it off. Now that I've seen the film, though, how does it hold up? What am I thinking about it?

My normal methodology is to do a Reviewpoint podcast for these sorts of things, and I even set up all the templates ahead of time, but I found myself wanting to write a review of this instead, for whatever reason, so we're going to do things a little differently here.

First, I'll hit you with a spoiler-free quick breakdown of my thoughts, followed by the more in-depth analysis that dives into the spoiler territory.

TL;DR

It's not as good as the previous three, but that doesn't mean it's a bad film. It isn't. I just feel like this wasn't all that necessary, and the series ends on a note that I'm less comfortable with than if it had been left alone with Toy Story 3. Some of the characters come off hollow compared to their previous roles in the franchise, to make room for new stars, and I can't shake the feeling that there's a built-in game plan to turn this into something that can result in different spin-offs for Disney+. That in itself isn't a bad idea, but if that happens, I'll feel like it was somewhat cheap to use an underwhelming movie to drive attention to what probably will be the degradation of what was a pretty much perfect franchise. Still, it's not bad, and I enjoyed most of it, so if it looks interesting to you, you should see it.

With that in mind, let's get into some more specifics with the return of a review format called Making the Grade, where we break down the major components of something and give it a score based on the standard report card lineup: A, B, C, D, and F for a total failure.

WARNING - SPOILERS BELOW

movie review Toy Story 4 podcast

TOY STORY 4 (2019):

DIRECTED BY
Josh Cooley

WRITTEN BY
Stephany Folsom (screenplay and story), Andrew Stanton (screenplay and story), Josh Cooley (story), Martin Hynes (story), Rashida Jones (story), Valerie LaPointe (story), John Lasseter (story), Will McCormack (story)

STARRING:
Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Annie Potts (Bo Peep), Tony Hale (Forky), Keanu Reeves (Duke Caboom), Jordan Peele (Bunny), Keegan-Michael Key (Ducky), Christina Hendricks (Gabby Gabby), Patricia Arquette (Harmony's Mom), Jay Hernandez (Bonnie's Dad), Joan Cusack (Jessie), Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head), Estelle Harris (Mrs. Potato Head), Wallace Shawn (Rex), John Ratzenberger (Hamm) and many more

Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy named Forky. The adventurous journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody's slight detour leads him to his long-lost friend Bo Peep. As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon start to realize that they're worlds apart when it comes to what they want from life as a toy.

STORY: C–

Realistically, this is always a story of toys that go on an adventure of trying to get back to the rest of the toys. It's happened enough times that it's the basic template. However, this time around, it's mostly a story of Woody going from being a toy that Bonnie enjoyed, to a sideliner, which he can't quite cope with, as he still even misses Andy.

This is good in the sense that it's true to his nature from the first film of wanting to be the star player and feeling jealous of Buzz Lightyear, but also having grown over the years that he isn't feeling vindictive and spiteful toward Jessie or, eventually, Forky.

But here's where things go a little off for me. Forky is introduced as Bonnie's new favorite toy, and Woody wants him to do his job, as he realizes how important he is to Bonnie, which is why he goes to retrieve him when Forky exits the RV. Then, even though the movie is technically supposed to be about "let's get Forky back to Bonnie", it never really feels like that anymore, to me.

There are too many side plots and not enough focus on just a fewer amount of them. We have Forky's struggle in learning he's a toy and not trash (which is brushed aside too quickly, and, I feel, could have been the entire premise of the movie) along with Gabby Gabby playing the villain role of wanting the love and affection of a child so much that she is willing to do terrible things to get it, and Bo Peep being a representation of lost toys making a future for themselves, and Buzz learning about his inner voice (which is SUPER thin), and Bunny and Ducky wanting a kid, all along with Woody's existential crisis. Oh, and the other toys are just there, waiting.

It all feels like setup. It seems like they want to do spin-off shows for Disney+, where Gabby can be followed with her kid, there's a team of Woody/Bo/Ducky/Bunny/Duke/etc who will have their carnival adventures, and Bonnie will have her team of toys, and there will be tons of different stories that they introduced with plotlines that they'll drive into the ground.

Am I somewhat downing the movie based on future predictions? Admittedly, yes. But even if that doesn't happen, that's the impression I got from the film, which means I wasn't fully satisfied with any of those plot elements.

I think I would have rather enjoyed a 30 minute short story of Forky than a feature film about 6 stories that try to get patched together. Again, a short story about Buzz playing with his voice control to act as his inner voice would have been great, and the jokes were funny, but I wanted more. It feels like this was every lingering idea they had for a potential sequel all thrown together like they had to rush a final season of a television show when they found out it wouldn't be renewed for another year.

At the end, having Woody choose to leave Bonnie and go with the others was a downer in a different way from Toy Story 3. I felt like the first Toy Story ends with it just being a good movie about friendship and the world is open. Toy Story 2 ends with a realization that Andy will grow older, but the toys will still be with each other. Tory Story 3 is a logical conclusion of that point and the acknowledgment from Andy that those toys were special to him, but they will mean more to a new kid than sitting in his attic, and the toys understanding that their purpose is to do that.

Even though I know the takeaway from this is that Buzz and Jessie have it covered for watching over Bonnie, and Woody feels he'll be more useful trying to apply his skills to others, my own psychology of it felt like that was more upsetting than hopeful. I don't think you're wrong for loving it, as everyone has their own thoughts and feelings on those types of things depending on their emotional spectrum, but since there's a variety of different opinions on stuff like that, I acknowledge that it didn't resonate with me the way I wanted it to.

For another example, if you liked the movie The Watchmen, and how it ended was amazing to you, I can't say that you're wrong. All I can say is that it felt nihilistic and depressing to me, and like the writer had a different goal in mind than what I would have liked to experience as someone going to be entertained. This sounds super dramatic, and it's certainly not the end of the world, but I almost feel like Toy Story 4 ends in a way that makes me feel sad and less content about the series as a whole now, rather than if it had just ended with Toy Story 3, as I was more than fine with that for the past few years, and I don't think the positives we got out of the film were necessarily worth it. But that's just me.

ACTING: A

The acting is rock solid all around. A+ on that, as expected.

CHARACTERS: A

Basically, if you loved the previous movies, you gotta love the OG gang.

Woody is such a bro, helping out all the time and all. The man.

Buzz has always been a bit blissfully ignorant, and I liked the whole inner voice thing a lot.

Bo Peep was repackaged as "bad ass female warrior chick" and I kind of feel like that was manufactured, but I didn't hate it. At least she was back. Having her missing the previous one felt awkward.

Forky was the star. That little spork was amazing, and again, I think I would have liked this way better if it was just a series of shorts, wherein one of them revolved entirely around Forky and it didn't deal with this antique shop and getting back to Bonnie. Just a story of Woody trying to turn Forky around from being trash to a full-on toy.

Ducky and Bunny were funny, but not the standouts, to me. The same went to Duke Caboom, which was good for a joke or two, but a little lacking.

Gabby Gabby was effective as a villain for like two scenes, and the rest felt rushed.

Giggle McDimples was fun, and I loved some of the random extras like the Combat Carls (particularly the one who didn't get the high-fives until the post-credit scene).

Hamm has always been great. He got nothing here. The same for Mr. Potato Head, but that was understandable, as Don Rickles had passed away. Still, it's a shame, as those are great characters who I wouldn't have been tired of seeing more of. The same for Rex and Slinky Dog.

Jessie, I've never been the biggest fan of. Meh.

Buttercup was a standout, and I think it's crazy how many name actors are in this that I didn't even realize, like Bonnie Hunt, Betty White, Bill Hader, Timothy Dalton and so on.

VISUALS (FX, MAKEUP, COSTUMES, SETS): A

They know what they're doing.

MUSIC & SOUND: C

No memorable song, but you can't get more memorable than "You've Got a Friend in Me". Sound was no problem, though, so I'll give this the middle range to balance it out. Nothing was bad.

TONE (ACTION, ROMANCE, COMEDY): B

ACTION: Good action, but nowhere near as good as the previous movies. Again, a little hollow.

COMEDY: Forky was the best. I laughed at almost every character at least once, and it did its job there, especially with some surprises like the unicorn. However, the bittersweet nature of it all downgrades this to me.

ROMANCE: I do like that Woody and Bo are still a thing, as that was present from the very very beginning of the first movie.

FINAL GRADE: B

Ultimately, I liked the movie, but I feel like it was unnecessary. Everything was done better in previous movies, and it felt like too many stories to properly serve any of them. Maybe another pass of the script would have made all the difference of going from a "good" movie to a "great" movie like the other three.

It's still good. There are still positives in it, and I still enjoyed it, but if I'm honest, I didn't enjoy it as much as I was hoping I would.

What did you think of Toy Story 4?
Is it just as good or even better than the previous 3, or does it fall short?
Drop your thoughts in the comments below!
THIS POST WRITTEN BY: ANTHONY MANGO

Tony Mango is the founder, head writer and show host of Fanboys Anonymous as well as all other A Mango Tree branches including Smark Out Moment and more. He is a writer, creative director/consultant, media manager and entertainer. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Extended profile here.

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