Toy Story 4: Film Review

For a long time I had been worried about Toy Story 4 because I thought Toy Story 3 ended things perfectly so I feared another instalment would ruin that. And now I’ve seen it I have to admit I didn’t think it was totally necessary.

Tom Hanks returns to voice Woody, who has lost his purpose as Bonnie’s toy. He doesn’t get picked for play and he isn’t in charge of the others. One day he sneaks into Bonnie’s kindergarten and meets her newly made toy – a dressed-up utensil named Forky (Tony Hale). Forky becomes Bonnie’s favourite toy and Woody makes it his mission to save him when he goes missing during the family’s holiday.

I was behind on watching this so for weeks I had seen glowing review after glowing review and was excited and ready to be blown away. But I wasn’t. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, and I enjoyed myself and laughed a lot, but I wanted something amazing, that truly justified its existence, but I came away a bit underwhelmed.

The story is simply fine. While it is basically about Woody having an existential crisis, the plot points and action felt quite similar to other outings – Woody has a habit of rescuing toys – so I wasn’t thrilled by it and I kept waiting for it to level up and grip me or have some deeper emotional resonance. It does have some poignant moments and the last couple of minutes are quite touching – that’s the only moment where the film feels necessary – but I had read tweets about people crying and I was never at risk of that. And I love a cry at movies!

Although the main story had some issues for me, I can’t deny that there are many fantastic, clever and visually stunning moments and I loved so many details, characters, jokes and lines of dialogue. The previous three were funny but this is hilarious and I laughed out loud a lot. A new character, Canadian stuntman Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), was a great source of comedy, as were funfair plushies Ducky and Bunny (Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key), Forky, and the usual support characters like Rex (Wallace Shawn).

I get that new characters had to be introduced and they were a lot of fun – Forky will be particularly relatable – but I’m sad it was at the expense of the old ones. You don’t get much from the likes of Slinky Dog (Blake Clark) or Rex and even Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) doesn’t have much to do. However, I appreciated the modern update given to Bo Peep (Annie Potts), as she is now a trousers-wearing “lost toy” who can handle herself, and I liked the addition of Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), who starts off as your basic psycho bitch – supported by creepy ventriloquist dummies – before revealing another side of her.

Ultimately, Toy Story 4 is very good but it didn’t meet my super high expectations. It hasn’t ruined the franchise’s stellar reputation or anything but it definitely wasn’t as good as Toy Story 3. This ending was very touching and justified the film’s existence somewhat but the movie as a whole did not. But all that aside, it’s still extremely enjoyable, I would happily watch it again, and I’m sure kids will be delighted by it.

In cinemas now

Rating: 4/5

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