Movie review: Is 'Toy Story 4' really necessary?

Fred Hawson

Posted at Jun 24 2019 04:28 PM

Woody and Forky in 'Toy Story 4'

It had been two years since Andy donated his toys to Bonnie. Bonnie was very shy in her first day at kindergarten but because of Woody's interference, she was able to create her own little figurine from a plastic spork and called him Forky. When the family goes out on a road trip, Forky throws himself out of the vehicle, thinking he was only trash. Believing no toy should be left alone, Woody goes out after Forky to get him back for Bonnie. 

I know am not alone in thinking that the Toy Story franchise already ended perfectly in "Toy Story 3" (2010). That was why when promo ads started coming out to promote a fourth installment this year, I was apprehensive about how it might affect the beloved series. Frankly, when I saw that Forky in that first trailer, I thought it was corny and shallow. I did not think it was a good story idea at all. 

Watching the film did not improve my opinion of Forky at all, honestly. Okay, he was sort of funny in his quirky little way, but I felt he did not prove himself to be worth the trouble everyone went through to get him back when he decided to jump out of the RV. Anyhow, Forky actually dropped out of the story line midway through, to be replaced by a story of Woody reuniting with his long-time crush, Bo-Peep, missing in action since "Toy Story 2" (1999).

This porcelain shepherdess doll was sold to an antique store, and had since escaped to be the leader for a group of Lost Toys. In order to rescue Forky, they had to fight off the scary "Goosebumps" Slappy lookalike puppet minions of the Gabby Gabby doll, who wanted to get her hands on Woody's voice box to replace her own damaged one. Woody's obsession about saving Forky felt needlessly dangerous for him and his friends. 

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So much about my dissatisfaction about the story, but the rest of technical aspects was flawless as we can expect from Pixar. The artwork and 3D renditions with all the different textures of various objects all so meticulously done. The voice work was excellent, led by Tom Hanks (as the over-heroic Woody), Tim Allen (as an underused Buzz Lightyear), Annie Potts (as the empowered Bo Peep) and Christina Hendricks (as the selfish Gabby Gabby). 

My favorite new character in this installment would have to be Duke Caboom. He is an Evel Knievel-inspired Canadian action figure with his stunt motorcycle. Unfortunately, he was discarded by his owner when he could not actually perform the crazy stunts promised in his TV commercial. Keanu Reeves has been lording it over various social media because of "John Wick 3" and "Always Be My Maybe," so add this funny character of his to that list.

Overall, I was disappointed with the way this new story unfolded like maybe it need not really have been done anymore. Thankfully, the colorful artwork, sense of humor and stellar voice work saved the day for this one, still making it an above-average animated film worthy of the Pixar brand it carried. 

However, I will rank it fourth among the four films of the "Toy Story" franchise. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."