After the third ‘Toy Story’ came out nine years ago, many cited the movie as the “perfect ending” for the animated trilogy, and no one (including us) thought that Disney/Pixar would ever churn out another ‘Toy Story’ movie.
But boy, we were wrong.
Disney surprised us by dropping a teaser trailer for ‘Toy Story 4’ late last year, and that, of course, sent the franchise’s fans into pandemonium.
What toy stories are there to tell? Will it live up to its existing legacy? What if - gasp! - 'Toy Story 4' sucks!?
As for movie critics, many were excited over the prospect of seeing Woody and Buzz Lightyear on the silver screen once again but some had their reservations as most animated movies tend to go downhill after the third installment.
So, how did Woody and Co. fared in the fourth installment of ‘Toy Story’?
We loved it so much that we walked out of the cinema feeling so happy and nostalgic at the same time because we feel that Disney/Pixar may just have created their best masterpiece to date.
Here’s our review:
#1 Woody’s Love For Andy Is Real
If you’ve watched the last three ‘Toy Story’ movies, you’ll know that Andy is all grown up and off to college by now. And if you’re wondering if he’ll ever make an appearance in this installment, well, the movie opens to a throwback of Andy and his journey growing up with his toys which will immediately give you the feels.
You’ll start thinking “Has it been that long?” and “Did I literally grow up with Andy throughout all four movies?”
Andy’s homage comes in at the perfect timing to invoke all the emotions you’ll need for the movie.
Andy may have moved on from Woody and the rest, but it seems that Woody is still hung up over his former owner. It was really touching to see how much Woody misses Andy and how he could talk about him for hours with his other toy friends. If only we had someone like Woody in real life, wouldn’t it be great?
The cowboy sheriff seems to be on the brink of a meltdown as he struggles to keep up with Bonnie, who, you know, isn't Andy. We somehow feel sorry for him and we love the fact that this 'Toy Story' shows a different and vulnerable side of Woody.
#2 Bo Peep Is One Badass Shepherdess
If you were excited seeing Bo Peep on the poster of ‘Toy Story 4’ and thought that she’s probably a damsel in distress waiting for Woody to rescue her, well, that’s where you’re wrong. The tables have turned for both characters and it turns out that Woody’s the one that needs a lot saving (physically and emotionally).
The way Disney tells Bo Peep’s backstory was so intriguing, we think it deserves her own standalone movie. She looks extremely different since we last saw her in 'Toy Story 2', as she exudes a tonne of ‘Mad Max’ vibes in this movie. You'll see what we're talking.
Not only has her character changed, the shepherdess' entire look has, too. She now navigates her new home like a badass girl boss that she is. We love Bo’s new outlook on life and how change doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad.
She’s also the walking definition of “what doesn’t break you makes you stronger” after going through a rough patch, which helped mold her into a tougher cookie than Woody, Buzz Lightyear and all the other toys Andy had combined.
You'll love Bo Peep in this movie, we guarantee it.
#3 Move Over Buzz Lightyear, A New Set Of Toys Is Here To Steal Your Thunder
One of the main reasons we were excited to watch ‘Toy Story 4’ is the introduction of not one, not two, but a handful of new toy characters. What’s even intriguing is the fact that the internet’s current boyfriend, Keanu Reeves, became Disney/Pixar's well-guarded surprise in this movie.
Keanu Reeves voices Canada’s greatest stuntman, Duke Caboom, who was enlisted by Bo to help her and Woody along the way. Caboom is a very flamboyant character who struggles with some self-esteem issues, but that doesn't stop him from cheering you up.
He’s funny without even trying to be, and just hearing him talk will make you laugh.
But the main star of the film is definitely Forky, a new toy brought to life after Bonnie created him. Forky is a character that resonates with us because he doesn’t look perfect like the other toys and constantly questions his existence (hands up if you feel like an outcast and are wondering your purpose in life is).
Because Forky wasn’t originally created to be a toy, he’s very innocent and naïve which makes him easily manipulated. Sometimes you’ll feel like smacking Forky to put some sense in him, and other times, you just want to hug him.
Ducky and Bunny, voiced by Key and Peele, also lives up to their comedic expectation. Their banter is top notch and their annoying antics are just the breath of fresh air we needed in this franchise.
As for the villain, if you have a fear of dolls, Gabby Gabby and his little group ventriloquist dummy henchman will definitely send shivers down your spin. ‘Toy Story 4’ definitely went a little darker with their bad guys this time. For a moment we thought we were watching something out of ‘The Shining’, mashed up with a side of ‘Annabelle’.
#4 Fantastic Animation and CGI
We’ve come a long way since the first ‘Toy Story’, and so has Disney/Pixar’s quality of animation and CGI. The graphics are really spot on and we truly loved how detailed and amazing the movie looks, especially the fun fair scene.
It's so amazing, in fact, you’d really believe that it was shot at an actual fun fair, with all the lights and rides.
The details on the new toy characters were also impeccable; Bo Peep's glossy porcelain looks, Duke Caboom’s detailed hands and arms that make them look like a real plastic toy and of course, the fluffiness of Ducky and Bunny.
Kudos to the whole team; we thoroughly enjoyed the vibrant colours and high-quality animation!
#5 Heavier, Darker Themes
If you compare animated films from 20 years ago to those released now, you’ll see that the production studios are now more willing to take risks and even use heavier themes in their films (read: ‘Zootopia’).
Although ‘Toy Story 4’ is not as matured or as serious as the theme we saw in ‘Zootopia’, we’re really happy to see Disney/Pixar taking a step forward by highlighting themes such as anxiety, self-esteem, toxic masculinity, and mid-life crisis (or in this case, mid-toy life crisis).
Woody has always been seen as the beacon, the saviour and the leading man of the franchise, but now, he has shown a softer, more vulnerable side to him that no one has ever seen (or seen it coming!). It proves that there’s no such thing as guys can’t cry and show their emotions or be ‘saved’ at the end of the day.
He also goes through a mid-life crisis as he struggles coming to terms with Andy’s departure and adjusting his new life as Bonnie’s toy.
Forky, on the other hand, taught us that although you may look different and not what society deems ‘ideal’, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be loved or valued. Bonnie loved Forky more than any other of her toys and it goes to show that sometimes you don’t need much to be happy: just a plastic spork and some leftover arts and craft items you can find in the trash.
As for Duke Caboom, his self-esteem suffered after an incident with his owner which also costed him his self-confidence. But all he needed was a little push (literally) and support from his friends to make him believe in himself again.
Bo Peep’s character, like we mentioned above, underwent a complete 360 turn, and we feel that it’s definitely something we needed in a male-dominated lead film industry. #GirlPower
Disney/Pixar has actually outdone themselves this time. ‘Toy Story 4’ is one of the most beautifully written tales to ever exist. It makes you feel whole, it’ll bring you on an emotional rollercoaster and if this really is the last chapter in the ‘Toy Story’ universe (we pray it's not), it is indeed the perfect way to conclude it.
Forget Woody, forget Buzz Lightyear (seriously though, his character wasn’t really as impactful in this movie), and all the other older toys, because who knew that a little plastic spork can make such a difference in a child’s life and ours too.
But be warned though: the ending will make you tear up and the last dialogue in the movie will give you all the feels. And do stay behind for the end-credit scenes too!