Toy Story 4
Toy Story 4 delivers some emotional punches that are heartfelt and earned, but most of the film's existence gets by on characters we've grown to love mostly doing nothing. Maybe it's time to put these toys in the dusty old box in the basement for good and buy the kids a PlayStation?
Disney continues their massive 2019 with Toy Story 4, another un-needed sequel that further proves that Disney and Pixar will remain box office champions for years to come.
Director Josh Cooley‘s Toy Story 4 is not so much a bad movie, but it feels excessive, especially for a series that capped it off perfectly with its third installment. Almost every single aspect of Toy Story 4 feels unnecessary, yet Cooley and his endless team of writers still manage to wrestle up some moments of sincere emotion and character progression.
Toy Story 4 follows Woody (Tom Hanks) and friends as they continue their life as the toys of Andy’s younger sister Bonnie. As she ages, her need for Woody and some of the other toys lessens as she discovers new amazements, such as Forky (a literal fork). Now, Woody must help steer Forky in the right direction as he becomes the center of Bonnie’s world, despite mostly wanting to just jump in the trash and call it a day.
Underneath the surface, Toy Story 4 occasionally bubbles up as a film commenting on both reflection and purpose. Woody is constantly looking back at the “old days”, to the point of mistakingly calling Bonnie Andy when describing her to newcomer Forky.
Woody is clearly struggling with finding a purpose in life, knowing that all good things come to an end and facing that cold reality head-on, as a much more mature toy than what we once saw when his jealousy for Buzz (Tim Allen) almost derailed him completely.
Now, Woody is mostly calm and collected, making a big deal out of very little things. It’s this sort of craving for importance that pushes Woody into the past, reminiscing on Bo, a long-lost crush that was once the center of his plastic world.
But stripping all of that away leaves a nasty taste in your mouth as Toy Story 4‘s almost pointless endeavors start to weigh in on the film’s overall success rate. There’s emotion and touching moments between familiar characters, but there’s also a lot of moments that have secondary characters doing absolutely nothing.
Never in a Toy Story movie have I felt so disconnected from Buzz and the rest of the gang. They serve no real purpose to the film or its story and mostly exist simply to help Woody when he’s in occasional need. Even Forky struggles to strike down with real importance once he gets separated from Woody and the film’s “story” begins.
It’s not that Toy Story 4 is a bad movie. It’s very tolerable and nostalgic, but struggles from start-to-finish to grab ahold of enough content to warrant a new adventure with familiar (and some new characters). It’s worth noting that most of the new characters don’t lend much of a hand to the series, aside from Keanu Reeves‘ Duke Caboom and a pair of hilariously dark performances from Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael-Key.
Toy Story 3 was the perfect conclusion to the characters that we have grown to love over the years. Heck, I’d argue that the Toy Story trilogy as a whole is one of the better constructed trilogies of all-time. I’m not afraid to admit that the ending of 3 had me teary eyed.
Yet, Toy Story 4 had my eyes completely dry, despite its constant tugging at the heartstrings, attempting to make you care yet again about another emotional conclusion that at this point feels far too late.
These characters’ stories have all been told already and at this point, we don’t need to see them sit around at the retirement toy box. Just close the lid and call it a day or give us a whole new crop of toys.
Toy Story 4 could be a passing of the torch, but I’m worried it’s just going to be a change of batteries on toys that have overstayed their welcome — just give them to Goodwill already!