REVIEW: Toy Story 4

Naturally, I had to give Toy Story 4 five stars. It could have been six hours of live footage of Mel Gibson suffering with diarrhoea, but as long as it starred Tom Hanks, I was going to give it five stars.

And that’s the sort of credible critiques you’ll get when you visit here, The Movie Dweeb.

Fortunately for me, A) Toy Story 4 did not consist of the bloke from Braveheart with assquakes, and B) Toy Story 4 was a beautiful, hilarious and surprising romp which still somehow managed to make me whimper, despite the fact that I thought I ruptured my tear ducts during Toy Story 3, nine years prior.

And that is the real reason why Toy Story 4 is a pretty perfect movie.

The fourth instalment in the franchise pays homage to the original Toy Story, which was released – I hope your shoe laces are tight, because I’m about to blow your socks off – 24 years ago. Similar to the first film, Woody is cast aside for other toys, by his child, Bonnie. She now favours Jessie over Tom Hanks’ cowboy. Feeling dejected, Woody seeks to make himself feel worthwhile by caring for her at her first day of kindergarten, where he aids her in forming a make-shift toy, Forky; a spork, with two googly eyes and some pipe cleaner for arms. Again, much like Buzz in the original Toy Story, Forky struggles to come to grips with the idea that he is a toy, and instead considers himself as trash, rightfully so. (“Rightfully so”? Who knew I had such a vendetta against animated sporks?!)

When Forky flings himself out of a moving RV’s window, in a child-friendly suicide attempt, Woody goes on a rescue mission to save him. I mean, would it even be a Toy Story movie if there wasn’t a rescue mission?

Forky is just one of the many new characters who make Toy Story 4 so special. Played by Veep’s Tony Hale, this character just works. His presence reminded my of the first time I heard Dory in Finding Nemo – he was bizarre and bonkers; speaking gibberish and learning everything about the world around him. In fact, Forky stole the show. As did all of the new characters, including my favourite, Keanu Reeves’ Duke Caboom. I liked him so much, I’m considering asking him to lead us through Brexit. I don’t know what that’s saying – either I loved Duke, or I loathe British government. Maybe both.

It’s fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A.

Again, Duke’s another whacky addition – he’s a Canadian stuntman who’s haunted by the neglect of his child, after he failed to perform like he did in the televised adverts. Duke only plays an integral role in a couple of scenes, but when he does, it’s filled with hilarious stunts and poses, slapstick humour and the incredible catchphrase “Yes, I Canada.” Alongside him is Ducky and Bunny, played by comedy duo, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. As soon as I saw their character announcements in one of the trailers, I knew they’d be great inclusions. They bring some classic Key & Peele humour to the film, including the quote “To infinity and… Your mom.” In fact, it’s jokes like this that make me feel that it wasn’t necessarily aimed at children – it seems more likely that, due to these out-there gags, that Toy Story 4 was aimed for people that had grown up with the series. The original Toy Story would have never used some of the jokes used in the 2019 sequel. (At least that’s what I’m telling myself for not feeling weird about seeing it alone, as an adult man.)

This does, however, mean that some old, classic characters are forgotten about. With a lot of the action happening away from Bonnie, where the majority of the toys are, fan favourites such as Rex, Hamm and Slinky Dog get very little screen time. Think of all of the disappointed fans of the character Dolly, who don’t get to see much of her. All two of the fans. (Who knew I had such a personal vendetta against a cartoon plaything? She’s just so smug.) Even Buzz Lightyear is reduced to very few lines, compared to the likes of Forky, Ducky and Bunny. This film neglects most of the toys to build on the relationship between Woody and Bo Peep – who was noticeably missing from Toy Story 3.

These are the facial expressions of sentient toys left in your mum and dad’s room.

I couldn’t have been more pleased with Bo Peep’s character arc. Pixar didn’t just decide to cast the shepherd as a no-shits-giving, bad-ass fighter just to fill a “women-are-tough-too” quota. Her backstory was delved into in Toy Story 4, and after she was sold by Andy’s mother, she became hardened by the outside world and learnt how to survive by herself. She was such an interesting character to watch; especially as she was just – y’know – there in the previous films.

Let’s remind ourselves that this is a Pixar film; it was always going to be moving. I’m an adult man, who went to see Toy Story 4, and I cried. There. I said it. I was surprised to see exactly how Disney and Pixar would return to this world after the story seemed to wrap up so perfectly in Toy Story 3, but it just goes to prove that they could literally do anything; maybe even lead us through Brexit. (That’s the second hint I’ve dropped, Tom Hanks – maybe you should start actioning it, bud.) Toy Story 4 isn’t just sad; it’s exciting, it’s hilarious, it’s fun, it’s moving. It’s everything you’d want from – what appears to be – the final in the franchise.

Pixar outdo themselves every time – with the exclusion of Cars 2, but the less said about that, the better. Not just via storytelling, but their visuals too. Toy Story 4 was one of the most picturesque films I’ve seen, recently. With a majority of it set at a funfair, it’s hard not to be in awe of the glowing carnival lights, and the flashing hues on the rides. Every fibre of hair and blade of grass looks real. I’ll let you into a secret here – the only reason I knew it wasn’t real, was because I’ve heard that toys don’t have freewill. Who knew?! Toy Story 4 opens with a dramatic rescue mission (can you believe it?) in the pouring rain. Not only does this flashback scene remind us of the toys Andy had since lost, but it was also a phenomenal way for Pixar to essentially show-off at how goddamn amazing they are when it comes to animation.

There’s a fork in the road.

I was so unsure about it when Pixar announced Toy Story 4. If I were in charge, I’d have cancelled it. But that’s exactly why I’m not in charge – well, that and I don’t have the talent, experience or qualifications for the role. Toy Story 4 is a smart, hilarious and deeply moving time to say goodbye to characters we grew up with. And if you’ll excuse me now, I need to go. Definitely not to get tissues, because I’m crying again. Definitely not.

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