05th Sep2019

‘Toy Story 4’ VOD Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Features the voices of: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki, Jay Hernandez, Lori Alan, Joan Cusack, Bonnie Hunt, Kristen Schaal, Emily Davis, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, June Squibb, Carl Weathers, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Laurie Metcalf, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, Betty White, Carl Reiner, Bill Hader, Patricia Arquette, Timothy Dalton, Flea | Written by Andrew Stanton, Stephany Folsom | Directed by Josh Cooley


Toy Story 4 is the fourth instalment in Pixar’s critical and acclaimed animated series. The film is released nine years after the previously planned trilogy-capping feature Toy Story 3 in 2010. Josh Cooley’s film once again finds the old gang bringing joy to their new owner Bonnie, who is on the cusp of Kindergarten. As Bonnie’s imagination begins to grow and widen. She builds Forkie (Tony Hale) her new favourite toy. A spork with an urge to be trash. Forkie has trouble accepting who he is, and set aside in the background is Woody (Tom Hanks). Having lost Andy, Woody makes it his aim to find purpose in a bigger world than what he knows and helps Forkie bringing joy and happiness to Bonnie.

It is somewhat difficult to understand why this feature exists in the first place. The previous trilogy capped off a stupendous trilogy of cinematic defining material. The characters arcs and thematic threads came full circle in a captivating and satisfying manner. So why then have Pixar and Disney reopened the vault and requested these characters for yet another entry? Financial gain, of course.

Toy Story 4 is a soulless entity that walks upon the hollow ground of a masterful trilogy with a sole purpose to make money and nothing else. A testament to both Pixar’s and Disney’s reputation concerning their recent cinematic efforts in the last decade. With every remarkable feature in the vein of Coco, audiences are treated to another subpar Cars entry or a Disney+ series that elaborates on preexisting material. It is this cyclical unoriginal nature that is consuming the talent available at Pixar. The studio was once a staple of unique originality that defined a genre for decades only to succumb to monetary greed and repetition. Toy Story 4 is a regurgitated and redundant entry into a franchise that repeats every emotional and narrative beat audiences have seen before. Not only the franchise itself but also within the genre.

There is very little entertainment value. Keanu Reeves steals the show as Duke Caboom, Canada’s greatest stunt man. The character does not have a traditional arc, only scenes that occupy the running time with a form of underdeveloped entertainment value. The original cast is bizarrely absent from proceedings. The one aspect of this feature that’s obvious from the get-go is that this is Woody’s film, first and anything else is a bonus.

Newcomer Tony Hale’s voice role as Forkie is at least entertaining. They are adding humour but not considerable layers or weight. The original characters in the film, of whom we have seen develop over the last twenty-four years, have butchered arcs. Joan Cusack’s Jessie is none existent throughout. Tim Allen’s Buzz Lightyear has no screen-time, and all personality ceases to exist, aside from a couple of cutaway lines and background noise.

The emotional beats are weak, anti-climatic and underwhelming. Bizarre that this occurs in a Toy Story feature but that a Pixar creation flops with the emotional weight and gravitas of its narrative is devastating. The emotional climax of the film is a misaligned element that falls short of instigating a captivating crux of emotional turmoil and sentiment.

Audiences have seen it all before, and the result does not hit the calculated heights intended. Narrative rhythms and character motifs are visible and predictable from a mile away. The intended target audience will be one step ahead of the curve concerning threads that are presented in the most on the nose manner. The humour is hit, and miss and the emotional value of characters do not particularly align with the series motifs.

Josh Cooley’s film inhabits a compelling exhibition of animation. Throughout the feature, audiences are blessed with a staggering level of mesmerising quality. Fabrics and plastics look outrageously photorealistic in no matter which sequence the image on screen looks extraordinary with a tremendous level of detail. Looks, however, can only get the films so far and even with the terrific craft on show Toy Story 4 is a weak Pixar entry and an ordinarily dull Disney entry.

Toy Story 4 is released digitally on October 1st 2019.


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