As summer starts to kick into full gear, this year’s lineup of blockbuster has already put up several heavy hitters. In a long running slate of sequels and reboots of fan favorites landing all over the map in terms of positive/negative reception, it is both surprising and inevitable that one of the year’s most anticipated additions to one of several franchises that we know and love is Disney and Pixar’s release of Toy Story 4.
This is a project that had been in development for several years, and had made its rounds in the rumor mill for even longer. While there was always support from many of the fans to continue the series, wider audiences were skeptical of the need for a fourth installment in what was considered an already perfect trilogy, with 2010’s release of Toy Story 3, especially as the newest release drew nearer. However, after tonight’s last of several early screenings of the new Toy Story, I think I join critics everywhere in saying that this movie absolutely makes its case.
I’ve always thought of the Toy Story movies as especially weird compared to other Pixar films. Sure, the actual concept of toys with emotions isn’t quite as far reaching as say, cars with emotions, or…emotions with emotions. However, because the world of characters who sit on shelves and get stuck behind dresser drawers seems like such a small one, the story demands compensation. As we’ve seen, this has involved high stakes scenarios of vicious jealousy, pure evil, and even the realization of mortality while being stuck in a garbage incinerator with no hope of escape (these movies are great for kids). Rest assured, Toy Story 4 stays true to this reputation.
One of the most disappointing things about this movie was the sidelining of the original cast members. Of course, we do have 3 other movies to enjoy Jesse, Rex, Hamm, Slinky Dog, and the Potato Heads, and they are in this movie, but no more than they need to be. Furthermore, the new characters are an absolute delight. Christina Hedricks’s Gabby Gabby makes for a well-realized villain and Keanu Reeves’s Duke Caboom is non-stop fun. Ducky and Bunny, portrayed by Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele, respectively, should also not go without noting. But the movie stays true to its weird roots by introducing Tony Hale’s Forky, a character made by the gang’s new kid, Bonnie, from bits and pieces found in the trash. The plot seemingly focuses on this character’s existential crisis, a traumatizing conflict of whether it really wants to be a toy, when it would probably rather just be a piece of trash (seriously, your children are definitely not retaining anything destructive from these movies). However much of this is actually a veil for a story that focuses on Woody, and his realization of his true purpose.
Without giving away too much more about the story, there are several other outstanding aspects of this film to look forward to. For one thing, the animation has improved so exponentially since the original 1996 film, that it is almost jarring. The surfaces and textures are almost too realistic, including brick walls, porcelain, rain, cobwebs and much more. Another notable aspect is the spectacular soundtrack and score, both of which a product of the legendary Randy Newman. As you hear “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” opening the first act against an oily cloud painting, you’ll find yourself thinking, “Should I be sick of this?” And somehow you won’t be.
Lastly, and this is something that came as somewhat of a surprise; the film was outrageously funny. That’s not to say that the previous films weren’t funny, but 4 takes it to a whole new level, achieving a constant and seamless blend of visual and situational humor.
While there is a lot of precedent for the follow up to famous trilogies in film to be in bad taste, Toy Story 4 is a veritable exception to the rule. It earns with the story every bit of what it asks for from the audience, and will be remembered as a consistent extension of an iconic series.
Release Date: June 21, 2019
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Ally Maki
Studios: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Director: Josh Cooley
Director: Jonas Rivera, Mark Nielsen
Run Time: 100 minutes
Official Social Media Pages:
IMDb Page: Toy Story 4
Wiki: Toy Story 4
Jake Hardison | Writing Contributor
A.A | Digital Broadcast Arts | Palomar College
Jake is a second year student at Palomar College pursuing transfer to a university to study TV, Film, and New Media. At Palomar’s radio station, KKSM AM 1320, Jake hosts a weekly movie and entertainment news show called Morning Wood on Mondays from 6-9 am. Jake is an avid fan of pop culture and all things fandom, and has been especially passionate about film and music his entire life. Engaging in skills such as filmmaking, singing, acting, broadcast, voiceover, and writing, his interests are diverse, yet revolve around enthusiasm for the art of storytelling. Jake currently hopes to pursue a career in entertainment reporting and eventually break into other forms of media. Instagram: @JakeHardison_17 | View My Articles
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