Toy Story 4 review
I can say now tat one of my favorite memories of going to the movies was when my dad took my brother and I to see Toy Story back in 1995. It was the first all CGI movie ever, but that wasn't why I loved it. Unlike a traditional movie from Disney was old fashioned in a good way, Toy Story felt like a modern, fresh breath of air that gave us a unique perspective of the world. It did help that both Woody and Buzz Lightyear were such memorable and likable characters, that toys of them were requested in my letter to Santa.
Toy Story 2 built on Woody, Buzz and the theme of being a toy and their purpose. Toy Story 3 catapulted to deep, emotional levels as the toys had to figure out what to do now that their child had grown up. These three movies make up a rare perfect trilogy that gave us a harmonious saga and the world of movies seems better with this. So when a new movie was announced, I immediately got the feeling that this was more of a cynical cash grab then a needed continuation. But I'm open to seeing what can happen. Let's look at Toy Story 4.
Now that the toys have moved on with Bonnie, Woody (played by Tom Hanks) still tries to look out for her and her well being, despite not being a favorite toy of hers. She'll play with Buzz (played by Tim Allen), Jessie (played by Joan Cusack), Rex (played by Wallace Shawn), Hamm (played by John Ratzenberger), Slinky Dog (played by Blake Clark), but Woody is usually left out. But this doesn’t stop him when he tries to introduce a new toy, a handmade spork figure named Forky (played by Tony Hale)
Forky has an existential crisis when he feel like he's trash rather then a toy, and keeps trying to throw himself away. He almost does when he throws himself out of an RV when the family goes on vacation. Woody goes to retrieve him while telling the others to hold on. Woody and Forky try to make it back, but make a detour into an antique shop. Here they encounter a broken Gabby-Gabby (played by Christina Hendricks). Along with her, they also encounter Duke Caboom (played by Keanu Reeves), Bunny and Ducky (played by Keegan-Michael Key & Peele) and even Bo Peep (played by Annie Potts). This throws Woody into his own existential crisis over what to do.
I shocks me to say that Toy Story 4 is only an okay film. It's certainly not a bad movie. It’s a movie that still tells a Toy Story tale fine, but it's also a complicated one based on what it's trying to do. It obviously wanted to not only give Woody a new arc, but to bring back an old element. The hearts in the right place, but it needed another rewrite to make it happen. But let's go into better detail.
The problem with Toy Story 4 is that it's a movie with very little at stake. At first the goal is that Forky is cared for and to help him through his crisis. Not only is he not that funny of a character (there is a gag about him throwing himself away that goes on a little too long), but his arc is kind of abandoned midway through in order to focus on Woody. I'd might have been okay with that, but Forky rarely is ever contributes to the story or even as a character.
Not to mention that the other Toy Story movies kept giving the side characters a lot to do. Most of them including Rex, Mr. Potato Head, Hamm, and even Jessie are stuck on an RV, so we don't get to see them that often. Even Buzz, who does get plenty of screen time, seems too out of character by being unconfident about his decision making, even though he had no problem with this in the other movies. Though I got a couple of laughs from Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom, Key & Peele voices feel too modern and out of place. I think it has to do with how their playing themselves and not characters.
I'll give this three Woody the cowboy dolls out of five. I'll be curious to see how families and kids will respond to this. I'm sure it'll have plenty of fans, but not too many saying that Toy Story 4 is the favorite. Perhaps to Infinity and beyond isn't always the best way with making more movies. Perhaps Disney should have stopped with Toy Story 3.