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Film Review: Toy Story 4 (2019)

Toy Story 4 (2019) is the fourth instalment in the Toy Story franchise from Pixar, which has been running from 1995. Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack all return with new cast members coming in for this film including the likes of Keanu Reeves, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. This film is the feature-directorial debut of Josh Cooley, who has worked behind the scenes of Pixar since 2004 on films such as The Incredibles and Inside Out. In Toy Story 4, Woody and the gang’s new owner, Bonnie, makes a new toy from trash named Forky. When he realises that he is trash and should not be able to move and talk, the gang have to reassure him that he is Bonnie’s toy and is a vital role in her getting through pre-school.
Toy Story 4 (2019) – source: Walt Disney Studios
One of my worries going into the cinema was that this film would feel like a cash-grab. The third film felt like a perfect ending to a fantastic trilogy, and I was one of the people that questioned the existence of a fourth film in the Toy Story franchise. However, I was proven wrong. This feels like a natural progression and a major story that had to be told to truly end the franchise. This film handles some tough themes but handles them in a way that children will be able to understand the importance of the story. This is something that Pixar has been able to do a lot recently, particularly in previous films such as Coco and Inside Out.
The same characters that are back are just as we remember them. However, this is truly a film about Woody and his journey. Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang are not in it as much as I would have liked them to be, being pushed to the side for almost the entire second half of the film. However, it makes sense narratively as we focus on Woody and Forky. Forky is not only a great concept for a film like this, but had so much personality. The voice acting was spot on, and Forky simply had some of the best lines throughout the entire film. And, in the midst of the mass love for Keanu Reeves, he does a fantastic job here as Duke Kaboom. His character actually had more story than I expected from him, and it worked great.
One of my favourite parts of the film actually turned out to be the antagonist. Whilst the Toy Story franchise has had good villains, they have usually been written as characters which seem good but turn evil. Toy Story 4 takes a completely different approach from the usual formula, and created some of the most emotional moments of the entire film because of the antagonist and their story.
Toy Story 4 (2019) – source: Walt Disney Studios
Whilst this may not be the most emotional entry in the Toy Story franchise, it certainly is the funniest. A lot of the humour in the film is thanks to two new characters: Bunny and Ducky. The fact that they are voiced by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key just makes them even more hilarious naturally. When this movie starts to feel a little heavy and dark, they add some great humour to lighten up the mood. There’s a gag with them that pops up several times in the film, and every time it comes up it works brilliantly.
As you can expect from any Pixar movie now, there is going to be some emotion at the end of the film. Whilst I will not give away what the ending is of this film, it is clear that it is a tearjerker. We all thought that the end of Toy Story 3 was perfect, but this feels like a definitive end to the franchise. Now that we have this ending to the series, I do not know how else they could end a four-film franchise like this. This honestly may be my favourite end to any of the Toy Story films, and I can see why Tom Hanks got emotional recording it.
This movie does have its flaws though, and unfortunately for me that comes down to the character of Bo Peep. She is meant to be this important character in Woody’s life, yet I did not truly feel that connection. I have never been huge on her character and how she has been written, and I felt the same way about most of the people around her. It just made me miss the gang of toys that include Slinky, Jessie, Mr. Potato Head and more when they were away from the screen.
Toy Story 4 (2019) – source: Walt Disney Studios
Whilst this may not be my favourite Toy Story film (that honour goes to the original), this has been the best film of the summer so far. The pacing was excellent, the animation is gorgeous and the emotions are real. There was a balanced mix of humour and drama, and it never got boring. I was one of the people who questioned the reason for making a fourth film, but I love how they ended this one off. This felt like a justified entry into an incredible franchise.

Have you seen Toy Story 4 yet? What did you think of this entry, and where would you place this film in the franchise? Comment down below and let’s have a discussion.

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