Toy Story 4 was…Disappointing?

Am I missing something here? Am I a delusional maniac? Am I even…human?

Toy Story 4 is directed by Josh Cooley and stars the vocal talents of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, and Madeleine McGraw. This time around, Woody must convince a new toy named “Forky” of his purpose while also acquiring him back to Bonnie when he gets lost during a road trip.

I am so, so sorry fellas. I went into this with an acutely optimistic attitude and was fully hoping that I would gobble up the same feelings as many critics and audiences have been rhapsodizing towards Toy Story 4. Despite my stability to just watch it with a clear and open mind, I ended up not really liking it. I didn’t think it was bad, I didn’t think it was good, it was just split right, smack, down in the middle for me. It was…decent.

Woody and Bo Peep’s arcs easily push this movie close to good. I grandly treasured what the writers have done with the two and where they have placed them in their final moments—or at least, supposed final moments. It’s guaranteed to leave the fans with psychic glee including this one right here.

Forky isn’t annoying or anything of that design, but he isn’t like, a Jesus Christ planed character like reviewers have been treating him as. He was just a delightful addition to the gang. However, I wish they didn’t cut off his arc halfway through the movie in order to devote more minutes to Woody. Key and Peele’s characters were droll, but nothing more nor nothing less. Buzz’s persona has randomly altered from his persona in the predecessors and mainly to throw in this overutilized and overbeaten joke that got tiresome real quick.

So, a “toy” gets lost again. The toys must go and find this “toy” and get it back to their owner before a crisis awakens. Toys will meet a villain who has a heartbreaking backstory of not feeling loved during their adventure. There’s nothing strikingly dynamic nor distinctive about the plot. It’s the same old “someone got lost so we have to get him/her back before *insert owner’s name here* returns or else he/she will get pissed and our duties as toys shall fail” tall tale, except, done less creatively and more conventionally? It’s kind of getting exhausting at this point, to be honest. Besides the ending which I did find to be quite adequate and worthwhile, the rest plays out like any ordinary kid’s movie. This to me, is not enough narrative power though to vindicate a whole entire movie’s existence.

Gabby is Stinky Pete Part 3, ladies and gents, except, thankfully, her arc unlike Lotso’s is closed off in a contrasting manner, so I appreciated that. However, it doesn’t excuse the fact that (no spoilers) she has the same philosophies as someone like Pete or Lotso and that the Pixar writers are having consequential issues with inventing a villain that is appropriately divergent to the others and adds fresh concepts to the yarn. 

Every other character besides Forky, Woody, Bo, Bunny, Ducky, Duke and a bit of Buzz get neglected almost entirely in Toy Story 4. In the previous three, most side characters where given unbiased amounts of screen-time and character growth. Everybody kind of just ends up back at square one by the end except for say Woody and I guess, Forky. Some may see this as a positive and others may view it as a negative. You could probably guess how I felt about it.

Pixar is, at this point, Dreamworks standard quality to me 80% of the time now. And not the How to Train Your Dragon or Shrek Dreamworks, the Shark Tales Dreamworks. Okay, maybe they’re not that bad yet, but they’re close, I’ll tell ya! 

Don’t butcher me for saying this: “Toy Story 4, at the end of the day, is your average children’s flick.” There, I said it. It’s cute and funny at times, and that’s about the extent of its specialties. There’s just not a whole lot in this movie that hasn’t already been done before in the world of animation. It’s regurgitated leftovers of a franchise that should’ve been left alone or been drifted into a more caring, less corporate and business-like manner. This movie just doesn’t appear direly necessary in the long run, personally.

There’s nothing impartially risky about Toy Story 4 to me as well. You could make the argument that Toy Story 3 does, in hindsight, have some risky elements to it, even if they were ideas that were cowarded-out at the last second for something more trouble-free. Toy Story 4 is fairly elementary and safe. It’s slightly above average on the maturity level when it comes to a children’s flick, but it doesn’t nearly come close to how appealing the first three were to both adults and children.

I mean—true story; I kid you not—the little girl (who was 7, maybe 8 years old) next to me fell asleep during Toy Story 4. And then the two full-grown adults—who I could tell were Pixar fanboys based on their…comments—sitting on my other side of me were having a ball, playing with their phones, talking 24/7, cursing, yapping characters’ names, explaining to themselves out loud what was occurring, and cheering or gasping every time something pleasing/frantic commenced. Like…every time. I’m glad we have such wonderful people in this world to set examples for our future generations. And people get mad that kids today aren’t “polite” anymore. Gee, I wonder why?

FYI, having emotional depth and moments in an animated movie is not a “risk.” In fact, it’s exactly what makes people like these Pixar sequels. So yeah, it’s quite the opposite if you ask me. 

Now I’ll answer the question. Do I like Toy Story 4 more than Toy Story 3? Umm…maybe. I’m not sure yet. It’s definitely more original (?) than 3 since 3 is a straight up copy of 2, but 3 literally balances out the characters expertly, plus I like the final scene in 3 a lot more than the final scene in 4. So, I guess, to avoid the question pretty much, they’re tied for me/I’m confused and I am under pressure to answer so I’m going to wimp out of this situation…bye, bye!

I don’t want to sound harsh, and I already know I’ll be outcasted for even saying such a robustly crude thing, but I whole-heartedly believe that people will sometimes instantaneously love a product just because of the logo that’s iron-stamped on its cover no matter how crappy that commodity turns out to be. I think Pixar fans can sometimes donate extra credit where credit isn’t truly deserved when it comes to the latest entry. I’ve read plenty of 5/5 or A to A+ reviews and as ignorant as it sounds, I have been revolting the same trigger-quote in my head after reading them all: “Really? Does…that…really…is that all it takes…to make an animated masterpiece?”

But at the end of the day, you should take your kids to see this one. They’ll most likely have a blast of a time and you might have a suitable experience especially if you grew up with this franchise and will instinctively adore it no matter what because…NOSTALGIA OVERPOWERS MY FREEWILL AND I AM A ZOMBIE SLAVE TO DISNEY…woah, woah, woah! Where the hell did that come from?

Maybe I’m just a non-intellectual, or an uptight, pitiful naysayer, little $*&%@!!(#@ who needs to lighten up and just give this children’s film a pass. But for someone who, as mentioned many times before, loved 1 & 2 all their life, Toy Story 4 seemed like a simplistic, greedy method of milking our childhoods’ once again with the magical, mystical powers of nostalgia. Disney, to me, has become a much different company than they were 10 years ago. You know there’s more to a movie’s makeup than just throwing in random bits of recycled emotional beats, ya know? Ask Studio Ghibli. They’ve always had all the right boxes covered and checked. 

Verdict: C

Also, Toy Story 4’s title/theme sequence is pretty much the same as Toy Story 3’s title/theme sequence. Seriously???

And, if Disney decides to make any more Toy Story movies, can they please just make the next movie dedicated to the toys getting replaced by iPads and gaming systems because that would actually be pretty darn realistic to our modern days. 

This Movie is a Part of My List: Ruining Your Childhood (Pixar Ranked)

“Toy Story 4” is now playing in theaters.

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