When I heard that Toy Story 4 was in production, I was a little surprised; after all, Toy Story 3 seemed like the perfect, glorious ending to one of the finest movie trilogies of all time.
So where would they go with this one? And would it do the previous movies justice or would it end up being like that time they brought back Only Fools and Horses for one final, deeply disappointing run?
Movies – Toy Story 4 Review: What’s It About?
Well once again, a toy goes missing/gets separated from the rest of them and Woody has to save the day.
Only this time, he’s doing it because – to paraphrase him – there’s nothing else left for him to do.
Movies – Toy Story 4 Review: Who’s In It?
The gang are all back, sounding just that little bit older, which is no surprise considering the first movie was released 24 years ago and most of the cast are now anywhere between late 50s, early 90s, or in the case of Mr Potato Head, long since dead. This time they also joined by Tony Hale as Forky.
Movies – Toy Story 4 Review: Is It Any Good?
There are two routes to take when answering that question.
On its own merits, is it a good movie? Absolutely. Like all the Toy Stories, it’s a colourful, enjoyable ‘Home Is Just Over That Mountain’ style quest, with a lot of great humour that will appeal to adults and children alike. And similar to the other three, it has some emotional, and heartwarming moments too.
In particular, I thought the stuff with Ducky and Bunny was brilliant, while the Benson dolls – apparently a direct rip-off of Slappy the Dummy from Goosebumps – were suitably creepy to the point that I’m surprised they didn’t push the movie into the PG banding.
On the flipside, as a part of the Toy Story franchise, I kinda thought Toy Story 4 seemed a little unnecessary.
While it was a good movie, it felt like it went down a path already well-trodden and like it didn’t bring anything new to the table at all. There’s only so many times you can go to the well of ‘Woody and the gang have to save a toy before the owner realises’. And while it still had emotion, like I mentioned above, I don’t think it had it to the level of the others. especially not Toy Story 3.
There were a few little niggles worth mentioning too…
The idea has always been – within reason – that the toys only operate when no human can see them, and yet there were a couple of times when they almost outright interacted with them. It’s a little thing, but it didn’t sit well with me.
On the voice acting, I thought Tony Hale’s was off. I can get past his annoying ‘Buster Bluth in Tiny Town’ voice that he used for Forky, but unlike literally every other voice actor in the movie, his didn’t convincingly sound like it was coming from his character. Every line sounded like it had been badly dubbed in late on, and as if he didn’t record them while actually acting with the rest of the cast. And I know that when it comes to animation or audio plays, it’s common practice for some actors to record their parts separate from the rest of the cast, but it usually still feels like that they are there with the rest of them when you hear the final result. Here, it just sounded like Hale recorded forced soundbytes in a silly voice. Mr Potato Head sounded like he was there with the rest of the cast, and like I say, he’s dead.
And yes, on that note, I wouldn’t say it was off-putting or something that they could really help, but the cast sounded old. It’s a bit like watching a newer episode of The Simpsons or listening to Tom Baker playing the fourth Doctor in a Big Finish audio; you know it’s the same guys but time has made you very aware that voices are not immortal. In particular, Jessie sounded like an old woman rather than the young cowgirl from Toy Story 2, and yet Joan Cusack is still one of the youngest cast members.
Movies – Toy Story 4 Review: Final Thoughts
On its own merits, Toy Story 4 is a solid movie; one that is comfortably better than most Disney/Pixar movies and streets ahead of the animations that other studios release.
As part of the Toy Story franchise though, while it’s still good, it seems more like one last encore before the curtain comes down, a nostalgic greatest hits tour or an epilogue at the end of a book. Or all three put together. As a viewer, I can accept that and applaud it, but any more and I think I’d lose interest.
Without spoiling it, the way Toy Story 4 ended would suggest that this will be the final outing for Woody and the gang, and I think that’s for the best. The format has been taken as far as it can go now, and any more would risk sullying the legacy of such a great series.
So thanks for the memories guys, but let’s leave it there.