I want to preface this review by saying that Toy Story has always been a part of my life. My mom has told me that I watched the original Toy Story so many times, that I actually wore out the VHS tape and we had to buy a new one. I’ve seen Toy Story and Toy Story 2 more times than one can even count. Okay, now that I can acknowledge my love for this franchise, I can say that I really wasn’t looking forward to Toy Story 4 that much. I thought Toy Story 3 ended in a perfect way, so why would they want to risk ruining that?
I’m happy to say that Toy Story 4 is indeed necessary. In fact, this film was absolutely delightful from start to finish. I called my mother afterward and explained to her how I forgot how huge a part of me Toy Story was until I watched Toy Story 4. Watching this film woke up a part of me that has been asleep since 2010.
Toy Story 4 tells a story that is pretty simple. Our characters go on a road trip with Bonnie, the toys’ new kid. Some things happen, and our characters need to find a way to get things resolved so they can be there for Bonnie. This film was perfect in its blend of old and new. Just seeing Woody and Buzz makes you realize how long of a journey we’ve been on with these characters. Toy Story came out in 1995. That’s 24 years ago, ladies and gentlemen. Yet, somehow Toy Story 4 made you feel like you had just left off with these characters? It’s such an amazing achievement.
Tom Hanks has never been better as Woody. He absolutely shines in this film, and I can proudly say that many tears were shed because of him. Tim Allen was fantastic as Buzz as well, but I think this is definitely more of a Woody story than Buzz or even Jessie. Adults will appreciate this film because, like all the Pixar films, this story has many different themes and lessons. The main lesson to me was about Woody, and what it’s like when you start to lose your purpose in life. If you’re only supposed to do one thing and then suddenly that thing is gone, what’s next? I loved how it asked these types of questions.
The animation in Toy Story 4 is at a whole nother level. There are shots in this film that look real. Not like, “Wow that looks good for an animated movie,” but instead “This literally looks like a real shot.” It’s extraordinary what Pixar is able to do. They’re constantly pushing the boundaries of what animation is able to do, and I really love how they do this.
Every Toy Story movie introduces new characters to us. In Toy Story 4 we’re introduced to Keanu Reeves’ fantastic “Duke Caboom”, Kristina Hendricks’ “Gabby Gabby”, Bunny and Ducky (Key and Peele), and Tony Hale’s “Forky”. I think I only watched the trailer for this movie once, but I remember thinking that Forky could get really annoying. At the beginning of this movie he was. As the filmmakers most certainly wanted him to be. But after the first 15 minutes or so, he really becomes enjoyable. The rest of the new cast was phenomenal. Characters that we thought we’d hate we turn out to love. This film really did serve as a necessary end to the Toy Story franchise in a way that I never realized I needed.
I think I cried almost throughout this whole film? Like, I literally had to leave five minutes in to get tissues. It was a real issue. But these tears weren’t sadness. Rather, watching Toy Story 4 was like becoming a child again. Seeing these characters evolve and grow up really hit me because ever since I can remember, Toy Story has been a part of me. Watching this film made me realize how important these characters still are to me, and the many life lessons that they’ve taught me.
Toy Story 4 is an absolutely fantastic film. Pixar is at the top of its game right now, and all those who doubted why this movie needed to exist (me) will be proven wrong within the first few minutes. Toy Story 4 is as good of a Pixar film as they get. It has laughs, cries, and everything in-between. If you grew up with Toy Story like me, you’ll have an emotional experience with this film. If you brought your kids to Toy Story as a young parent, you’ll also have an emotional experience. Toy Story 4 is for all audiences, and I can’t recommend it enough.