We went to see Toy Story 4 on release day – so I thought I’d take a day to gather my thoughts and then share them with you on here. BUT there’s just a few disclaimers before we get started!
DISCLAIMER 1: There will be *SPOILERS* in this review. I don’t think I can talk about the film in detail and give my true opinions without talking about the plot, characters etc in detail. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and you don’t want to know what happens – now is your time to click the little red “x” at the top of your screen.
DISCLAIMER 2: I am super invested in the Toy Story franchise and I wasn’t particularly delighted with the latest offering. This review is gonna get deep.
So I think the best way to review the movie is to break it down and talk about each element one by one!
Toy Story 4 – The Plot
I think the plot itself was good. Bonnie’s family go on a road-trip and on the way, they lose Bonnie’s new favourite toy, Forky, a plastic spork which she made in kindergarten. Cue Woody’s rescue mission to bring him back, meeting new friends along the way. It was the classic plot line that has kept fans hooked for years. I enjoyed seeing the characters outside a kid’s room and there were so many laugh-out-loud moments. A particular highlight for me was the OG toys hi-jacking Bonnie’s dad’s sat-nav. With the exception of the ending (more on that later!) my main gripes with the film aren’t about the plot itself.
As with all the latest Pixar offerings, the quality of the animation and attention to detail is amazing. Even the promo posters for the film are super-detailed. You can really see how much technology has improved since the first film came out (24 years ago- what?!). The film is vibrant, exciting and mesmerising all the way through.
The Original Characters
Where were they? I feel like they were SO underused in this film. Heck, the aliens didn’t even feature in it at all. In my opinion, there was too much focus on the new characters and an opportunity to develop storylines for old favourites like Jessie, Slinky, Rex etc was missed.
These are the characters that made fans fall in love with Toy Story in the first place, and they’re the ones most people came to see.
Buzz Lightyear gets his own section because I have a bit more to say about his character specifically. He is and always will be my favourite Pixar character and my 2nd favourite Disney character overall (second only to Mickey Mouse). Of course, I’ll still go and meet him every time we go to Disneyland but I was SO disappointed with what they did with his character in Toy Story 4.
Firstly, he was effectively “demoted” to a secondary role in the film. He had a lot less to do than he had in the first 3 films. Secondly, there has always been a lovable silliness and naivety about Buzz but I feel like they really dumbed down his character for this movie. It thought the whole “listening to your inner voice” thing was really funny to begin with, but it got tired pretty quickly which was a real shame.
The New Characters
Forky – I knew from the moment he was first revealed to the world a few months ago that I would love him, and I wasn’t disappointed. The poor munchkin spends much of the movie in an existential crisis, which makes him so relatable to the millennial long-time fans of the franchise. He is one of the few character in the film that comes “full circle” from self-deprecating belief that he is no more than trash, to understanding that he is now Bonnie’s favourite toy and a much-loved member of the gang.
Duke Kaboom – Hilarious. This little Canadian stuntman was one of the highlights of the movie for me. I absolutely loved his back-story as well. YES WE CANADA!
Gabby Gabby – I wasn’t a fan. I just found her character irritating, and I think she was given too much screen-time at the expense of the original characters. With that being said, I thought that her final scene when she comforted the lost child at the fair was really heartwarming and it did redeem her a bit.
Ducky and Bunny – These two are brilliant, absolute scene-stealers. I will be really surprised if they don’t end up with a spin-off movie/short film/TV series of their own.
Giggle McDimples – Another annoying character. She’s a Polly Pocket figure and side-kick for Bo Peep. I don’t feel like she added anything meaningful to the plot.
I was delighted that we actually found out what happened to Bo Peep all those years ago, as it wasn’t really addressed in Toy Story 3. The movie begins with a flashback, the toys still belong to Andy and his sister Molly is clearing out her old toys and sadly Bo Peep is given away.
Flashforward 9 years later, Bo Peep is an independent bada$$ who fends for herself. I really like what they did with her character and I think it’s great that Disney have created another strong female heroine for young people to look up to. Bo Peep was very much a sideline character for the first two films so it was nice to see her shine in this one.
I’ll be honest, I hated it. Not only was it heartbreakingly sad – I think it was a terrible way to end the story.
For me, the friendship between Woody, Buzz and “their kids” WAS Toy Story. Their partnership was at the core of the whole series and it just didn’t sit well with me that they went their separate ways in the end. Woody built such an attachment to both Andy and Bonnie, and in the first 3 films (and the start of 4) his priority was always “his kid”. I don’t think that it’s believable that he would want to go and live his life as a lost toy with no child to belong to.
If we’re going to go REALLY deep, Woody literally chucked “You Got a Friend in Me” out the window and ditched his lifelong pals. Unless Toy Story 5 begins with Woody returning to Bonnie’s room declaring that he made a terrible mistake, I don’t really want to see another one of these films without the whole gang together.
Toy Story 4 – Overall
Personally, I don’t think I’ll watch Toy Story 4 again. I really, really disliked the ending and I think the 3rd movie would have been a better place to end it. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in the cinema in my life. At the time I thought it was because the ending was so sad. Now looking back, I think it was also the disappointment. I was expecting a different ending for the toys and it definitely wasn’t the way I wanted it to end.
If you’ve made it to the end of this mammoth review – I’d love to know your thoughts on Toy Story 4. Maybe you loved it, maybe you hated it! Let’s get a discussion going in the comments section below!