Toy Story 4
After stepping out of the cinema at the end of Toy Story 4 (TS4), I was livid. Although, I didn’t start writing my review straight away, because I think I needed some time to digest the film and actually figure out what my feelings were towards it. Did I hate the film? No, absolutely not. Was I simply acting like a stubborn child who was refusing to accept the changes that took place and the end of a franchise I dearly loved? Yeah, that was probably it. The critics’ reviews of TS4, as well as its box office performance, show that the film has been long awaited and well received. TS4 has broken the global box office record for the earnings of an animation, raking in £187 million in just its opening weekend!
‘You know, Bonnie wasn’t [Woody’s] first kid, there was this other kid called Andy and y’know what? I don’t think he’s ever gotten over it’ - Forkie
The opening credits show Andy as a young child playing with Woody, this image invokes such a huge sense of nostalgia and it’s wonderful that in this sense, the openings of all of the films have been consistent. Also, the audience is reminded of Andy and his importance to toys like Woody. The final instalment of the 24 year-old franchise, contrary to my initial thoughts, definitely does not disappoint; from plot to score and performance, everything is up to its normal high standards. There is also a stellar voice performance from Tom Hanks (as Woody) and Tim Allen (as Buzz) as always! These men have the most comforting voices.
If you compare the animation details from TS4 to Toy Story, or even Toy Story 3, you can tell that it has been steadily improving over the years. Everything is just that bit sharper and defined. I like the way Forkie has been animated because it is in an ever so slightly different format to the rest of the toys, which perfectly highlights the fact that Forkie has been made by a child from things like putty and chewing gum. Forkie is the most dim-witted character in the gang, and I love him for it. Most of the humour in TS4 comes from this character and his interacts with others.
Let me introduce ‘Forkie’, a plastic spork that Bonnie has fashioned into a toy and whom she becomes very attached to. The problem is: Forkie was made from ‘trash’ which has resulted in him having a sort of existential crisis as to why he is alive and why he is now a toy. Woody, being the good ol’ caretaker that he is, takes it upon himself to teach Forkie about the purpose of a toy, and tries to ensure that Forkie doesn’t keep throwing himself into the bin. The story really kicks off when Bonnie loses Forkie and Woody on a road trip, and the two try to make their way back to her. Along the way there are pit stops in which they cross paths with old friends as well as new enemies.
I remember thinking: What is going to be different about the storyline? Because all of the other films have followed the same arch which is: toy gets lost, toy makes friends whilst lost, toy’s companions search for the missing toy and eventually everyone makes it home to their child safely. However, whilst the formula of the plot is still the same, there are a few curve balls that get thrown into the mix that certainly make this film stand out from the rest.
One thing that also makes this film exceptional is the new characters. Especially the ‘antagonists’: Gabby Gabby and Benson. Benson is extremely akin to Slappy the ventriloquist doll from Goosebumps and is just as TERRIFYING. I think this is the one time where Toy Story has actually introduced a toy that appears to be very visually menacing; I would even go as far as to say Benson is the scariest villain Pixar/Disney has ever introduced.
Not all of the original characters are focussed on in this film; in fact the only real focuses are on Woody, Forkie, Bo and Gabby Gabby. Having not featured in Toy Story 3, Little Bo Peep’s character is brought back and she’s better than ever. I never thought much of Bo’s character; she was never involved in main plots and was always just a meek little lady who stayed in the house whilst the others went on adventures. NOW, Bo is independent, adapt to the world around her and SMART. Bo is actually pretty badass, more so than Jessie in my opinion!
Furthermore, the soundtrack to this film is perfect because it hasn’t changed since the first film! Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Personally, I will never get sick of Randy Newman’s ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’, and the many renditions of Buzz Lightyear’s theme song will never cease to get me excited for some action.
The film isn’t a bad ending for the franchise. The film is actually brilliant: it’s funny, it has astounding new characters, and it shows character development. Most importantly, TS4 manages to keep all the things that make Toy Story Toy Story intact. However, it is also heartbreaking and hard to accept for someone who grew up watching these films.
In Toy Story 3, Andy second guessed giving Woody away because of his attachment to his childhood toy but eventually entrusted Bonnie to take care of Woody. It was a tear jerking but understandable ending. However, in hindsight, I feel a bit bitter about the ending of Toy Story 3 because of the way events subsequently played out in TS4. My dislike for Bonnie has shown me that I am surprisingly capable of hating a 5 year-old child. This isn’t because there are any flaws in Bonnie’s personality, but her favouritism of her toys does not lend in Woody’s favour and this is as hard for an audience to handle as it is for Woody.
Even my 8-year-old niece exclaimed that she ‘didn’t like this one, [because] it’s sad’. But I suppose, endings are sad and growing and accepting things that are out of your control is hard to do... even if it concerns a fictional animated toy character! We see Woody at his most selfless but at the same time, a wonderful lesson is finally learnt: that you need to be selfish sometimes, and that doesn’t make you a bad person.
Age Rating: U
5 out of 5*