Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain spoilers for Toy Story 4.
Back in 1995, Pixar released their first feature film and the first-ever computer-animated feature film with Toy Story, which soon became one of the most iconic movies to date. 24 years later, and Pixar are back with their 21st film, expanding the Toy Story franchise with Toy Story 4.
Directed by Josh Cooley and with voices from Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves, Key and Peele and Annie Potts comes Toy Story 4. Two years after Andy has given Bonnie his old toys, she is about to begin kindergarten and continues to play with all her toys, except Woody. On Kindergarten Orientation Day, Woody sneaks into her bag to accompany her, and she returns home with a new friend she literally made, Forky, who soon becomes Bonnie’s favourite toy. Bonnie and her family then embark on a road trip where midway through, Forky jumps out of a window because he doesn’t believe he is a toy. It’s down to Woody with the help of old friends, like Buzz and Bo Peep, and new friends, like Duke Caboom‚ and Ducky and Bunny to help reunite Bonnie with her favourite toy and save the day.
The way I judged the characters in Toy Story 4 was by the emotion conveyed by their voice actor and the relationship that the character had with others in the film. Woody is once again voiced by Tom Hanks who brings a lovable charm to the character. Hanks nailed the emotion within Woody’s voice, whether it be in the joy of finding Bo Peep again or the sadness in leaving his old friends behind to live with Bo Peep and her friends. Tim Allen is also back to voice Buzz Lightyear, who, like Hanks, did an excellent job in voicing his character. Though it wasn’t liked by some, I quite enjoyed the ‘inner voice’ aspect of Buzz. It not only conveyed a nice message for the audience about following your heart but was also a good addition to Buzz’s character that we could see in future Toy Story films. Annie Potts has returned to voice Bo Peep, 20 years after Toy Story 2. It was brilliant to have her reunited with the gang and her voice for Bo Peep was something that added to the film in a way that, with other characters, added to its enjoyability. I’ve mentioned Hanks, Allen and Potts as they are arguably the main characters in the film, but the relationship between each and every character was done fantastically, both by the voice actors and the animators. If you think about relationships between certain characters, like Bo Peep and Buzz or Woody and Duke Caboom, they have been orchestrated expertly with the tone from the voice actors and the body language from the animators. For me, this has improved massively over time for Pixar and made Toy Story 4 a better movie. I felt that though he was advertised as a main character, we could’ve seen more of Tony Hale’s Forky. Majority of his lines were screaming ‘gah’ and I would’ve liked to have more from a character that was heavily advertised in trailers and posters. It’s also worth noting how much I loved the new additions to the Toy Story family. Without Keegan-Michael Key as Ducky, Jordan Peele as Bunny and Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom, the film wouldn’t have been as funny or as good as it was, but then again, it wasn’t one of the better Toy Story movies.
The animation in Toy Story was gorgeous and it really added to my enjoyment of the film. Recently, Pixar released a series of individual character posters for Toy Story 4 (found here) which, if you look closely, shows the spectacular amount of detail put into the animation and design of these characters, my favourite being the scuff marks on Woody’s hat and the material used to make Bullseye. Compare this to the animation from 1995’s Toy Story and it’s evident to see the incredible strides made by Pixar in their animation over this time.
As fun as a sequel that Toy Story 4 was, it did feel rather unnecessary. The story could’ve been left at Toy Story 3, but Toy Story 4 did open the door for the potential of more Toy Story sequels in the future. I also felt that in Toy Story 4 some of the “older” characters like Rex or Jessie were ignored to make way for the newer characters who could carry the franchise forward, like Duke Caboom or Ducky and Bunny. Even though some of the “older” characters were sidelined in Toy Story 4, I really loved that Pixar was able to integrate the enjoyability from previous films and their characters with the newer characters. I found myself wanting more from Ducky and Bunny and Duke Caboom and their adventures with Woody and Bo Peep and Giggle McDimples.
Though it wasn’t the best film of all time either, especially not in the Toy Story series, Toy Story 4 was still a good movie. Perhaps I’ve grown up which may be why the film didn’t meet my hopes for it, but regardless, there is certainly a message for all in Toy Story 4; you may be “lost” in your life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are “lost”. Take Woody’s storyline over the movies. He was Andy’s favourite toy who’d seen competition through Buzz, the loss of friends like Bo Peep and Wheezy, but gained new friends like Jessie and Buzz, and has also suffered the terrors of daycare and losing your owner. By Toy Story 4, Woody is done. Bonnie doesn’t play with him and he’s abandoned, as he feels that his job of making a child happy is over. But he reunites with Bo Peep, one of his best friends who’s now shown him a new way of life. A new way to bring happiness to children. His life has meaning again and he is fulfilling his purpose as a toy. Though he has no owner and is classified as a lost toy, he has actually found himself.
Toy Story 4 gets a 7.2/10. It’s not the best movie in the Toy Story series but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad movie. Toy Story 4 carries a sweet story that made me reminiscent of my childhood. The voice acting, particularly from Hanks, Potts and Allen, combined with Pixar’s gorgeous animation, helped to make the film more enjoyable in a movie that leaves open the possibility for future Toy Story sequels.
Thanks for reading this review. I’m sorry I haven’t published a review in such a long time, it’s been a hectic couple of months, but I’m back with some more reviews coming soon. Follow this blog to be the first to read my reviews when they are published.
Once again, thanks for reading this week’s review. I’m off on holiday for some time, so join me in a few weeks for the review of a Martin Scorsese classic. See you then!