There is a lot of uncertainty in life. Where will I be in ten years? Will I get that promotion? Will I find someone to spend my life with?
Watch Our Toy Story 4 Movie Review
Friends, I want you to take solace in knowing that not everything is uncertain. There is one thing that we can always count on: Pixar.
Toy Story 4 is the fourth and final (?) entry into the greatest film series of all time. The first in the franchise was also Pixar’s first movie back in 1995. At the time, the film was revolutionary. Being the very first feature length film to be completely computer animated made it a huge deal for Disney and for Hollywood at large.
In the years since, the studio has continuously improved upon itself, but the fact remains that their very first release is still their best. It comes as no surprise, then, that its sequels have been nothing short of fantastic. The third one, which came out in 2010, was universally praised as a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and even won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was the perfect ending.
Then something weird happened. In 2014, Pixar announced Toy Story 4. Many people were excited, some were scared, a lot were confused. I, myself, remember thinking, “Why are they doing this? The third one was perfect.”
As a huge fan of the series, I was worried. I was worried that this was a sign of a lack of creativity from the studio and I feared that there was no way they could catch lightning in a bottle for a fourth time.
Somehow, some way, they did. Never doubt Pixar.
“I feared that there was no way they could catch lightning in a bottle again. Somehow, some way, they did. Never doubt Pixar.”
Unlike Toy Story 3, there is not a huge time jump between this movie and the last one. In fact, Toy Story 4 picks up right where the third one left off. Bonnie, the young girl that Andy donated Woody (Tom Hanks) and the rest of his toys to, is about to start kindergarten. While Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), and the others bring joy to Bonnie, Woody is having a hard time adjusting.
Having just joined Bonnie’s room, he is no longer in a leadership role. His loss of power and his lack of playtime has caused a bit of an identity crisis within Woody. He has always held the belief that “Life’s only worth living if you’re being loved by a kid.” So what happens when you’re not being loved by a kid? This is just one of the many themes explored in the movie.
Joining the voice cast that we already know and love is Tony Hale. Hale plays Forky, who is having an identity crisis of his own. Once just a spork, thrown away after fulfilling its duty, Forky comes to life after Bonnie gives him arms, legs, and a face during arts and crafts time.
Newly sentient, Forky does not know how to cope with being alive. The life that he once knew, that of providing transportation to get food from one’s plate to one’s mouth, has been replaced with playtime and cuddling. With this, Woody has found his new purpose: To show Forky his importance in Bonnie’s life.
“Newly sentient, Forky does not know how to cope with being alive.”
In addition to Hale, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele reunite to voice Ducky and Bunny, an inseparable plush duo who spend their days as prizes to be won at a carnival. The two are just as funny in animated form as they are in real life and bring fresh comedic relief.
Christina Hendricks and Keanu Reeves are Gabby Gabby and Duke Caboom, vintage toys living in an antique shop, longing to be loved. The franchise has always been so good at seamlessly introducing new characters and these toys are no different. Through them, we better understand what it’s like to be a toy and what it means to be played with.
Something that really struck me while watching Toy Story 4 was the animation. The animation is incredible. These characters look like they are right out of the box – they have never looked so clean and polished. A lot of progress has been made in the 24 years since the first movie, where even the human characters looked plastic.
There are moments that take place in grass and in rain that look breathtakingly real. There is a cat that is animated in such a crisp and refined way that I worried it would shed its hair all over me. Going in, I knew it’d be good but I was not expecting to be overly impressed by the animation. Five minutes in and I was blown away. Less of a surprise was the emotional punch that Toy Story 4 hit me with.
“These characters look like they are right out of the box – they have never looked so clean and polished.”
Pixar is known for making its audiences laugh while tugging at their heartstrings. Continuing the tradition, my eyes began watering five minutes into the movie, as Randy Newman’s classic song, You’ve Got a Friend in Me, began playing.
As the movie continued, I realized that some of the themes that are explored are just as relevant to my life as they are to the toys. Knowing the studio, this is no accident. Pixar’s magic is found in the way they make their audience feel seen, no matter the context. Whether it be through the eyes of toys, monsters, or fish.
My misty eyes from the beginning of the movie would mature into full blown tears streaming down my face by the time the credits rolled. Toy Story 4 completely justifies its existence and is another satisfying entry into the franchise.
Time and time again, Pixar does what they do better than anyone else in Hollywood. In the years to come, post-Toy Story, I have no doubt they will continue to be the most imaginative studio in the industry. To infinity and beyond.
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