A little late writing this review but trying to get back into the habit.
So I went to see Toy Story 4 at my local Cineworld a few weeks ago. As much as I adore Pixar and the Toy Story crew I was a little dubious about this, as I felt TS3 tied everything up in a nice neat bow, so a new film had me wondering why?
The film was enjoyable, but nothing more than that really. It lacked the heart that the previous movies had in spades, and honestly just felt like an exercise in money making. It wasn’t bad by any means, it just was not as good as other Pixar films.
So the premise is that Woody, has gone from being Andy’s favourite toy and in charge of the room to being demoted to barely being played with by Bonnie and often left in the cupboard, and is not coping well with not being needed by his new kid. I suspect this is perhaps meant to be a (somewhat heavy handed) metaphor for parents not being able to cope with their kids growing up and not needing them.
Woody in an attempt to make himself more relevant in Bonnie’s life sneaks into her backpack for the first day at kindergarten and ends up helping her create a little Spork man she calls Forky. It seems the love of a child is what imbues ‘toys’ with life* and Forky comes to life but does not want to be alive and just wants to go back to being ‘trash’. Bonnie loves her new toy, despite his attempts to commit suicide back to the bin so Woody commits to keep him safe to help Bonnie, as the family and all the toys go on holiday.
As you can imagine Forky gets lost, Woody jumps out the RV to save him (similar to trying to save Buzz in the first film) but on the way gets distracted by Bo Peep’s lamp (we learn in flash backs that she was donated and Buzz misses her) and strays into an antique store where we meet creepy old doll Gaby Gaby (voiced by Christina Hendricks) and her creepy hench-puppets. She want’s Woody’s voice box so that her voice features will work and a child will finally love her.
Woody then bumps into old flame Bo Peep, who is now a strong independent woman drives a remote controlled skunk and is rocking the Rosie the Riveter look as an apparent way to demonstrate her new found resilience. And the focus of the rest of the film is that she will save Woody, rather than the other way around. There are some more new characters introduced – Ducky and Bunny were pretty funny and added some comedic moments to a film that was starting to drag and get dull, and Keanu Reeves pops up as Duke Kaboom for no discernible reason I can see, other than wanting Keanu in the film.
Most of the old cast are completely surplus to requirements in this film, the only person that really appears with any regularity is Buzz. The others can’t have been in the film studio for more than half an hour to record their lines. Buzz does have some good comedy moments as he attempts to find his ‘inner voice’ whilst trying to rescue Woody. Jessie, Bullseye, Rex, Slinky and the Potatoes might as well not have been in the movie at all for how much they were used.
The focus of the film seemed to be on Woody needing to move on and let go of his old live, stop trying to relive his glory days and wanting Bonnie to be Andy…..and I can’t help but feel that’s a message that Pixar and Disney need to reflect on. Stop making more Toy Story films – the first 3 were great, the ending was perfect and we could all leave the toys happy knowing they were being played with by a new kid. The ending seemed to indicate that that was Tom Hanks bowing out, and we won’t see Woody again…but now there are rumours of another film. Just stop….make something new for a new generation.
As always the film looks beautiful, as all Pixar films do, but I just felt this film wasn’t needed and was actually a little depressing at time. If you need to satisfy your curiosity, watch it, but if you were happy with the end of the 3rd film and don’t need to know, then just pretend it doesn’t exist.
*If the toys in the Antique shop and the fun fair have never known the love of a child then how are they alive? If based on Forky being alive that is what provides life? Does that mean any inanimate object a child plays with can come to life or does it specifically need to be given a face? As a child I used to love to put my mum’s washing basket over me and play pretend I was a Dalek. …