Soooo, I’m curious. Are you Team “Yay! for a fourth” or Team “Why IS there a fourth?” when it comes to the Toy Story franchise? Oh, don’t mistake my question as having any negative connotation. Please read to the end to understand. I’m really just curious as to who here among us is still scratching their heads wondering why we needed another Toy Story movie and who is psyched to see their favorite toys back on the big screen. Either way, I had the opportunity to screen the film early and have a few thoughts of my own to share on the topic. Are you ready? Brace yourselves ~ some of my Toy Story 4 review may not be what you were expecting.
I was invited as media to attend this movie screening in exchange for my review. All opinions are 100% mine and mine alone. This post does contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
The Toy Story Franchise
Back in 1995, we were introduced to the world of Pixar Animation Studios through their first full feature involving the friendship between a flimsy cowboy and a hard exterior space cadet. It gave both kids and adults the opportunity to relate on various levels regarding friendship, personal connection and purpose. We saw the love between a child and his toys, as well as the love between the most unlikely of characters. We also learned how not to judge a book by its cover.
I was 22 and single when the original movie came out ~ not even sure I saw it in the theater, to be honest. Hubby and I weren’t even dating yet, though we knew the other existed (we had actually gone on a couple of dates a few years prior). I do remember that, when I did see it, the animation stunned me and I absolutely fell in love with….Buzz Lightyear!!
PS – Note about me…I’m a huge Tim Allen fan. Maybe not so much for his stand-up, but more for his TV shows and movie roles. In fact, Home Improvement was always my ideal. I know, weird….because now I am married and have three boys.
Woody’s Round Up
In 1999, the Pixar crew released their sequel to the successful original. This time, they not only added new characters to the mix, but the writers reversed the story-line. As Andy was off to summer camp without his buddies, his mother held a yard-sale-turned-rescue-mission. Woody had been mischievously swiped by a gentleman looking to ultimately sell him to a toy museum.
So, in other words, we saw Woody having to come to Buzz’s rescue in the first film. We see Buzz having to rescue Woody in the second.
I think it added a nice touch to show how friendship works both ways.
But the story just didn’t seem to feel finished….did it?
It took a decade before the third movie in the series was released. This one took a lot of thought and was brilliantly executed ~ in my humble opinion (Okay…who am I kidding? That’s why there is so much talk about whether there should have been a fourth!). In 2010, Toy Story 3 brought us the story of Andy aging out of his toys and the need to find them a new home. At first, we see them showing up at a child care facility. In the end, however, we see the transfer of power and love (or the power OF love) handed over to the imagination and creativity of a beautiful little girl named Bonnie.
The story-line was magnificent. It was impossible to find a dry eye in any theater when this movie was released. It told a beautiful story of growing up and passing the baton on to the next generation. We once again saw the importance of friendship and loyalty and the carrying out of one’s mission in life. Here, Woody’s purpose was to help find a new child for all of his friends. He kept the crew together and ultimately found another home for everyone.
I was good ~ in tears, but good. It was the perfect ending to such a fun bonding experience. Of note, when the first movie was made, I wasn’t even married. When Toy Story 3 came out, I was married and had three beautiful boys with whom to share the experience. It was okay to be over. Really, it was.
But it wasn’t….
When the announcement was made that Toy Story 4 was being done, I sighed. I admit it. I couldn’t understand how they thought they could top perfection. Literally, I felt like the third movie was an amazing way to seal the deal. It didn’t need any saving or resolution…at least in MY book.
Apparently, however, from what my son has researched, the team at Pixar wasn’t even sure the series was going to be over with the release of Toy Story 3. There were still ideas flying around and unresolved story-lines that certain individuals felt needed to be finished.
Most important to them was to answer the question of Woody’s story. Was it complete? Had he fulfilled his purpose in its entirety? I mean, we had been following the cowboy for decades, but had the final chapter actually been written? Would Bonnie’s room be his final loving home?
So – here we go…
They Did It: They Made Toy Story 4
Right off the bat, Toy Story 4 provides us even MORE backstory. We are taken right back to Andy’s bedroom when Woody was still a part of Andy’s world. We also get a little more insight into Bo Peep’s story, as we watch the toys progress through the years with both Andy and Molly. More about Bo Peep in a bit.
Ultimately, present day takes us back to Bonnie and her growing up, too. She is about to start kindergarten and is nervous about being in a new environment with other kids she doesn’t know. She has grown attached to her own little world and she fears not being away from her comfort zone ~ and her “friends.”
This is not an uncommon situation among kiddos.
To cope with the fact that she cannot bring any of her toys to class, she eventually creates one out of the most simplest of items. The creation of Forky helps her to adjust, cope and enjoy things around her, to the point where she wants him to go everywhere with her ~ even on vacation. Forky has become her new favorite toy.
There is one problem….
Forky has quite a bit of difficulty accepting the fact that he is now considered a “toy” instead of “trash.” He ends up cycling through quite the identity crisis. Therefore, Woody, who has always felt his purpose in life was to take care of his “kid,” takes it upon himself to console Forky and help him understand and accept his new role as Bonnie’s “best friend.”
Well, as most Toy Story movies goes, we end up on another adventure that involves mishaps, missed opportunities, new friends and new perspective.
Woody comes to realize through the course of the film that it’s time for him to take the next step in his journey. He never loses sight of his purpose. It just gets a little adjustment and he takes on a new adventure that still satisfies all we know Woody to be.
I’ll leave the rest of that for you to experience. Trust me ~ I revealed nothing.
Did I like It?
Honestly ~ this is why I took a week to process the film before sharing my thoughts with you. I wanted to make sure I knew how to explain what I’m about to say without compromise.
Okay, so point blank ~ I didn’t LOVE it, but I did like it A LOT. There’s a reason I didn’t love it and I’ll explain that in a minute. No doubt, though, it is an adorable movie once again showcasing stories about friendship and supporting one another. This one, however, takes a detour and goes further into discovering one’s purpose and finding one’s path.
For years, we have been following Woody’s story. He has been laser-focused on making sure everything goes perfect for his owner, whether it was Andy or Bonnie. He has also felt the responsibility of caring for the other toys under that child’s care. That doesn’t stop with this movie…just looks a little different by movie’s end.
What did I like?
I actually liked the story and thought it was well played out. It was easy to follow, easy to understand and held my attention all the way through. In fact, I even like the secondary story-line they gave Bo Peep, of which I admit I was skeptical through the trailers. I wasn’t sure where they were going with it, but it made sense once I saw the film.
I loved that Bonnie was in the movie more than Andy usually seemed to be. To be honest, I personally think they made Bonnie’s character in Toy Story 3 TOO perfect, TOO lovable and TOO easy to adore. I mean, you can’t just make a character like that and expect us to be satisfied with one movie. Right? She obviously needed something of her own. So, in that respect, I totally see a reason to have made this movie.
I love that, once again, we see another misunderstood character’s story fleshed out. For this, I won’t go into details because I’m trying to keep this spoiler-free.
So, what didn’t I like?
Okay, this may sting just a little bit. In fact, I pray my friends who are HUGE fans don’t turn on me.
I was not as infatuated with Duke Caboom as others were. I mean, he was – oooookay and had some funny moments as the Canuck with all the luck. He definitely had a pertinent role in the film and made us laugh. I think it was just the fact that I’m not fan of his voice actor.
YIKES ~ there it is!!!
See, I’ve never been a huge Keanu fan, friends. Well, let me rephrase that. Keanu Reeves as a human being is one of the most generous, sweetest gentleman on the planet. I cannot deny what he has done for others and how respectful he is. However, his acting? He’s just not on my top ten…..fifty….one hundred list of favorite actors to watch.
Oh, boy ~ did I just make some enemies? Please forgive me!
Again, I can appreciate Keanu Reeves as a person and think he has done some amazing things, so can we just agree to disagree on this one? Please?
I have to say that I was not overly excited to see that they made Buzz Lightyear even more of a simpleton than he was in the first movie. In the original, it was understandable. He was learning how to become a “toy.” Here? I mean, it’s been how many years????? I just felt that they did Buzz a disservice. Broke my heart just a little.
NOTE: Remember that I shared Buzz was my favorite….
In the end…
It just didn’t emotionally affect me the way the third movie did. I heard others say it tugged quite a bit on their heart strings, but I just didn’t feel that. Again, I liked the movie as a stand-alone film. It was cute, applicable, poignant, funny and relevant. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I felt like I could connect a little better with Toy Story 3 because I was the mom of three boys and knew that I was going to be facing that same scenario in the not so distant future (and have since sent our oldest off to college). The film prior just had a human connection that I felt was lacking in Toy Story 4.
Would I recommend?
Sure! I may not like a few things about it, but I couldn’t tell you NOT to see it. You will laugh, you may sniff a little and you may find a tear escaping. It’s a GOOD STORY!! Don’t take everything I’ve said in the post too seriously. It’s just me being honest and candid about what some of my more detailed and personal thoughts on the film.
Now, for the parents out there, here are some thoughts to consider.
- Believe it or not, there is NO profanity. Hallelujah!!!! Now, there are some derogatory phrases, such as “idiot,” but no cuss words! Ducky and Bunny are a little rude at times, but it’s somewhat understandable.
- The Dummies are CREEPY! Yup – no way around it. It will be all about how you present the idea of them to your littles. My kids are teens, so it wouldn’t affect them in the least.
- Gabby Gabby is a bit bossy, controlling and, well, creepy, too. But hold on ~ there’s more to the story.
- There are a few fight scenes and Buzz is kicked in the head, but you’ll find yourself laughing more than feeling badly for him.
- NO SEXUAL CONTENT!! There is a little romance, but nothing unacceptable.
In essence, it’s a movie the whole family can watch (take the above list into consideration for littles under six). I stand by my word – it’s a GOOD MOVIE!! I just felt that it may not have been a NECESSARY movie when the third movie was absolutely packaged up with such a beautiful, effective ending.
So, I get it. I get why they felt the need to make the movie. Apparently, Woody needed it…
Toy Story 4 pops out of the toybox and into our hearts June 21, 2019!
In the meantime, check out these fun activity sheets and coloring pages!!
For all the trailer fun, check out these posts!