A SPOILER Filled Review of Toy Story 4

I’m serious. I decided to shove spoilers all over this review post, so if you haven’t seen it yet and want to not know things, then you better click to another blog post like maybe this post about my new book or this post about Bernie Sanders or this random post about books I like

I warned you.

forky-toy-story-4


What I Really Liked

There are three things I loved about this movie. The first is the humor. Toy Story 4 is not the best in the franchise (that would be Toy Story 2) but TS4 might well be the funniest. I laughed out loud, which is rare for me, several times during the movie. The sight gags are amazing. Another thing I loved was the visual look of Forky. He has a certain Claymation appearance that tickled my nostalgia bone. The last thing I really loved was Bonnie’s poor dad. I felt for him, because his troubles, though exaggerated for effect, are all too real.

What I Liked

I liked they brought Bo Peep back.

I liked the idea of a road trip.

I liked the mannequins. I really loved the mannequins in the antique shop. Seriously, Toy Story 4 at times is a horror movie. I liked that.

I liked that at the end Woody, for the first time in his existence perhaps, was able to be himself and not be responsible for anyone else. He is the leader who steps down to be with his family. The pastor who retires. The parent when the kids all finally grow up and leave home. He can relax with the little shepherd girl who has his heart.

I liked the emotions the film evoked. These are real emotions of love, purpose, abandonment, friendship, and loyalty. Take tissues with you.

What I Didn’t Like

I didn’t like the over-arching plot. It was paper thin, predictable, and to be honest boring. The plot held zero tension for me.

Though it was good to see Bo Peep, I didn’t like that they turned her into Rey from Star Wars. Seriously. She is a scavenger with a staff who is a great fighter and clever schemer. Mind you, I’m not upset that she is a strong woman–I like that part. What I don’t like is how much she reminded me of Rey. I think Bo Peep could have been more interesting as Ridley from Aliens 2 or perhaps Sarah Connor. Or Captain Janeway.

I didn’t like there was no short film in front of this movie. It made the running time of the movie seem brief.

What I Really Didn’t Like

There are two things I very much did not like about this movie. Keep in mind, it doesn’t mean I hate the movie, I just hate these two aspects of it.

The first thing I hated was the goodbye at the end. Buzz Lightyear and Woody are life-long friends. The movies occur in real time with us, which means they’ve been friends since 1995. For almost twenty-five years they’ve known each other. Their goodbye was terribly anticlimactic and far too brief. Yes, it was the emotional moment in the movie and many people will weep as they pull out a tissue, but let’s be honest that is because we the audience are providing the emotion here. The film cuts it short. This should have been even more of a gut punch. I can even see a montage of their greatest moments running. How awesome would something like that have been. Put that together with the way in which all the other toys — toys we are led to assume Woody has led and nurtured from the beginning because Woody was Andy’s original toy and they barely even say by-by. This bothered me.

The second, and from a story-tellers perspective the most bothersome, was the minimizing of the other characters. Buzz Lightyear not only has almost no presence in the film, he actually somehow becomes dumber. Buzz in TS 2 and TS 3 was bright, alert, and very aware of his place in the universe. This Buzz seems to not know what the young Buzz knew.

But Jessie? Poor Jessie. I think she has a total of two lines in the whole movie. All of the other characters are likewise moved aside.

The moviemakers dedicate this film solely to Woody. Even Bo Peep exist only as the fulfillment of Woody’s transition. Gabby Gabby and Forky make meaningful transitions, but both of these are viewed as Woody’s accomplishment, not their own discovery.

Overall

Overall, this is a great movie. My ranking of the franchise is 2, 3, 1, and 4. However, the nihilistic Forky is worth the price of admission and the mannequins are worth the popcorn and soda. You will love the movie. However, it could have been better. I think it could have been a lot better. It is safe for your whole crew, although Forky’s fatalism might cause some discussions later when you’re eating supper at Pizza Planet.

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIXAR MOVIE?

I am the kind of guy who admits my biases easily.  I have a bias towards movies.  I love them.  I have a bias towards clever dialogue.  I have a bias towards something I can watch with my whole family.

These are some of the reasons why I love Pixar movies.

Yesterday after a wonderful Easter worship service we came home and enjoyed our traditional meal of roasted lamb and jellybean cake and then said, “Do we want to watch a movie?”

Of course we do.  I got vetoed on watching The Ten Commandments, which, though not very biblical is very, well, very charltonhestony.  So we ruminated and sorted through and decided to watch one of mine and Mrs. Greenbean’s faves:  Up.Up_ver4_xlg

In that same vain, here are my top 5 Pixar movies, in order.

1.  Up–This is not just a wonderful movie, but it is great storytelling.

2.  Toy Story 2–I know, I know, most of you would put Toy Story 3 here, but what made Toy Story 3 so great?  That’s right, the foundation laid in Toy Story 2.  This is such an odd sequence in that it defies convention–the best is the second, the next best is the third and the least is the first.  The only other franchise I can think of with the same ranking in sequels is the original X-Men trilogy.

3.  The Incredibles–Without a doubt the most family affirming film in the past 20 years, if not ever.  Never mind the greatest one-line commentary on pop culture ever:  “And when everyone’s super, no one will be.”

4.  WALL-E–Sci-Fi, social commentary, and a love story, well sign me up!  It is so very Isaac Asimovish–a future world where robots develop relationships and have to save human beings from themselves.

5.  Ratatouille–It was close between Ratatouille and Finding Nemo, but Ratatouille wins because it is about cooking.  How can I not side with cooking?  Besides, Ratatouille doesn’t seem to get the love the others do, but I think it is a fantastic film.

 

Okay, now for the bad list.  here are the top three worst Pixar films, in reverse order.  Just foolin’ ya.  There is only one truly bad Pixar film, and that is Cars 2.  All the rest are really good.  I wonder, what is your favorite?  Least favorite?

 

Now, for you brave souls who have a Monday morning to kill, check-out one of these two links.

The Pixar Theory (1) Interactive format

The Pixar Theory (2) Essay format

 

image from pixar.wikia.com