Spencer Kain’s review published on Letterboxd:
“I am not a toy, I was made for soups, salads, maybe chili, and then the trash. Freedom!”
“Toy Story 4” is a perfect example of how to carry on a franchise once thought dormant to results that only further boost the quality of an entire franchise whilst never disrespecting the legacy of it by putting out a cash-grab sequel that doesn’t match up to the levels of genius set by its predecessors. This certainly couldn’t have been an easy task to do but somehow, Pixar did it. I won’t lie, I had my doubts about this movie simply because “Toy Story 3” ended so perfectly but I absolutely adored this new installment.
The old characters we’ve known and loved for years take a backseat this time around which I like to think shows the filmmakers decision to show that those character’s journeys —while still important to the overall film— are seemingly quite over but still making them relevant enough in this film to justify their inclusion in it. Meanwhile, the new characters —even Bo Peep who gets a total makeover in terms of style and approach— to this installment pretty much get the spotlight fully. I believe in doing this, it enables the filmmakers to show that even new characters can be brought into a beloved property more than 20 years into it and still deliver the heart we’ve come to expect from “Toy Story” characters. If anything it’s a starting point to see how these characters can sustain a possible fifth film if Pixar decides to go that route.
I will say this one wasn’t as emotionally draining as the previous installment but it still manages to be the funniest “Toy Story” film and even the most heartfelt one. It’s also consistently inventive jaw-droppingpy beautiful to look at. The animation is simply stunning to an almost unbelievable degree. It will undoubtedly be looked at for generations to come on how animated films have evolved into almost photorealistic films. Pixar began the revolution on animation and they’re still perfecting it. It’s better than ever.
It was so good to see some of my favorite characters ever onscreen again I just do wish that there would have been more scenes of Buzz and Woody together. Even though my point still stands from my previous paragraph, I still wish I could have seen more interaction between the two, especially considering their friendship was the one I grew up on. Call it the bane of my own nostalgia, but I wish they could have had more scenes together. Thankfully though, the rest of the old characters along with the new ones helped to ease the pain a bit. Characters in “Toy Story” are always a high point and once again, they’re all wonderful here. I had some worries about Forky but he ended up being one of my favorite things about the movie. His existential dread hit a bit close to home but I absolutely adored the character. Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom is basically the most perfect casting in a movie ever and I’m so glad Bo Peep had a much bigger role in this movie. Based on the trailers, I thought there would be a certain character that would end up as the villain, but thankfully it turned out to be a completely different character. The villain had an actual good reason to be a villain and their storyline, especially the of subversion of expectation as to who I though would be the villain was really excellent.
I should have never had any doubts to begin with because “Toy Story 4” is a beautiful and emotional resurgence of a franchise 10 years after its supposed conclusion. The most important thing is that it justifies its own existence with an affecting story bolstered by fully characters once again. I won’t lie either, I cried twice. Once at the beginning during a montage and again at the very end thanks to a very emotionally, satisfying conclusion that not only felt deserved, but appropriate. It’s a triumph.