Not as outstanding as the first three movies, but its warm and fuzzy familiarity will resonate with nearly everyone.
Dir. Josh Cooley
2019 | USA | Animation/Adventure/Comedy | 100 mins | 2.39:1 | English
PG (passed clean)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts
Plot: When a new toy called Forky joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy.
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Subject Matter: Family
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Mainstream
(Reviewed in theatres)
Do we need Toy Story 4? The answer is yes, despite franchise fatigue presently plaguing many moviegoers. It is a good film, which is why we must support it so that Disney-Pixar might just consider a fifth movie, which would not be a bad thing.
You see, Woody (voiced by the venerable Tom Hanks, who turns 63 this year) has been a staple for two generations of children—the younglings who lapped up Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999) in the ’90s in cinemas, and their very own kids whom I am sure have been given DVDs (or something along those lines) to binge-watch the three preceding titles before their encounter with the fourth.
Everyone has their favourite ‘Toy Story’ movie—mine happens to be the third one, released in 2010. While I personally find the latest a tad weaker than what has come before, it is still a very strong piece with a brand-new adventure, incited by a new character, Forky, who is literally made from trash by Bonnie, the toys’ new owner, on her first nervous day in kindergarten.
“I was made to help a child, I don’t remember it being this hard.”
Toy Story 4 is really more about Woody than Forky though, with the former harbouring paternal instincts to protect Bonnie’s new favourite toy. Another prominent narrative thread involves Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts), who in a short but effectively touching flashback prologue unexpectedly leaves Woody and friends.
The film doesn’t quite work as a fresh new entry, because the idea of ‘freshness’ in a franchise such as this is often superseded by the warm and fuzzy familiarity—or perhaps for some, sentimentality—of characters whom we have adored for years.
So, in that sense I find Toy Story 4 to be more mature a film than it lets out to be, toying with notions of ‘moving on’, ‘matters of the heart’, etc., that adults (the very same folks who were kids in the ‘90s) can resonate with.
As an animated work, the attention to detail is no doubt top-notch—the characters’ eyes now do so much by doing so little, and even a slight watering of an eye evokes deep emotions. I think Pixar has now come to a point where it is not about animating characters anymore, but animating their performances. In a make-believe world, it might just be time to give Woody his Oscar.