Wow! Toy Story 4 was a beautiful, touching end to the Toy Story family of films. After watching Toy Story 4 it dawned on me that it was NEVER about the kids, it was about the toys. Toy Story 3 ended the story between Andy and his toys, the story between his toys continued. Toy Story 4 gave us closure with the toys themselves.
A few notes. This review has spoilers. If you don’t want to know what happens before you watch it, stop reading now.
Is it the best Toy Story movie? Maybe not but is still wonderful.
The Beginning of Toy Story
Pixar movies have the ability to take us into worlds we didn’t even know could exist. When Toy Story came out in 1995 they took us into the world of toys. What if toys had feelings? What if toys had friends, sadness, anxieties, dreams, and even trauma?
In the first Toy Story we met Andy’s Toys. Though we bonded with Andy the story was really about the toys. Woody, a lovable cowboy doll, was dealing with human problems such as insecurities, friendship, fear, not being wanted, loyalty, and how to be a leader.
When Buzz Lightyear, a new space ranger toy came in, Woody was scared of the unknown and of losing his popularity. Not only his popularity with Andy but also with all the other toys.
We identified with Andy’s love for his toys. Maybe we thought back to a special toy from our own childhood. For me, it was my Pammy Cabbage Patch doll. We understood that relationship, we really didn’t need a movie about that. While Pixar did a great job of showing the bond between a toy and a child, they did an amazing job showing the bonds formed between the toys. At the end of Toy Story Woody and Buzz were best friends, the gang was together and happy.
The Toy Story Continues
In Toy Story 2, Woody faces a whole new set of problems. He discovers his past and tries to figure how that is going to meld that with his current life. He meets new friends and learns that life is not all that he thought it was going to be.
Jessie and The Prospector show Woody different views about the world. Not every toy has the life as he has. Woody learns appreciation for his relationship not only with Andy but with the rest of the Toy Story gang.
In Toy Story 3, everyone had lumps in their throats and tears rolling down their cheeks as Andy handed his toys over to Bonnie. I think for most of us, especially those with kids it was sad because Andy grew up.
Not only was our childhood gone in the time span between movies 1 and 3 but also that of a character we have loved and understood. It was almost like we were parting with a childhood friend. We though the story was over.
Even Pixar thought the story was over. Unlike Disney, who jumps at the chance to make a sequel, Pixar has very few of them and they are usually YEARS apart from the original. Pixar said unless they had a stellar storyline then there would not be a Toy Story 4.
Then we get the Toy Story 4 announcement. For over a year I am scared. How can Pixar even come close to what I thought was a perfect ending to the Toy Story legacy? I saw the previews and still was not too impressed. A spork? Bo Peep is back? Then I remembered how good Pixar is good at storytelling and with each preview I was a little more excited to see the movie.
The Toy Story Ends (for real this time)
Toy Story 4 takes us back to bring us forward. The first scene shows the toys and the depths of the friendship. They were risking their lives to save RC from being swept away in the the storm. We also get a glimpse of the relationship between Woody and Bo Peep.
We already knew Bo Peep left, now we know why. Woody a life altering decision to stay even though Bo was like “toys” always get lost. Of course, Woody stays with Andy but we knew this since this is prequel info.
A bit later we are in Bonnie’s room. Woody is not the leader in Bonnie’s room and that is fine. Woody is also not one of Bonnie’s favorite toys. For me that was a little disconcerting. I felt for him and watched Woody try to handle the fact he wasn’t wanted much anymore.
We see Woody’s devotion to his kid by trying to help her at school. With that help came Forky. From the previews it looked like Forky was the focus of Toy Story 4. He was not. He provided comic relief.
Another thing that saddened me about Woody in this story is that while he and Forky were missing, Bonnie never notices. While I get that makes it easier for the ending that happend, it kind of hurts that a beloved character is not even missed. I mean Andy gave the longest speech about Woody when he was handing over the toys to Bonnie in Toy Story 3.
Woody’s New Life
Oddly, Woody’s new life starts with a part of him dying. Woody gave up his voice box and though it was given up voluntarily because he was manipulated by Gabby Gabby.
Gabby Gabby had a defective voice box from the get go. She never got to experience being a toy that was loved by a child. She manipulated Woody into giving up his voice box so she could be loved by a child. I don’t think the writers could have gone any other direction though because after hearing her sob story it would have almost gone against Woody’s character to have him act selfishly to keep it for himself.
His new life starts with a sad goodbye. This part of the movie was by sure the saddest for me. Woody says goodbye to Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang. It was at this moment when I realized everything was about the toys, not Andy or Bonnie. The friendship that started it all was going to end. When Buzz said, “she will be ok, Bonnie will be ok”. I knew Woody was leaving.
It is really sad because unlike real friendships that end, it is not like Buzz and Woody can keep in touch. They are toys. Woody fulfilled his purpose both with Andy and with Bonnie. Throughout all the films Woody helps every toy he comes in contact with so I am guessing he will continue this in his adventures with Bo.
Toy Story 4 Review
What did I think about the movie that breaks up the Toy Story gang. Overall, I loved it but I do have a couple questions with the movie.
When Buzz Misunderstands Woody’s Inner Voice. Why did the writers make Buzz “dumb”? When Woody and Buzz were having their “deep” conversation about their conscious. It was evident that Buzz didn’t quite understand that the voice inside was not the voice box. While it provided comic relief in a very emotional movie I think it reduced Buzz’s character. He is intelligent and has been able to make decisions on this own before. I think he deserved a better ending.
What’s Up with Gabby Gabby’s Henchmen? Those ventriloquist dummies were so creepy. In every other Toy Story movie if a toy was a villain or accomplices of the villain there was a backstory to it. We could understand them. We were given no backstory on those weird toys.
Is it Really the End? I am hoping this is the last Toy Story movie. I adore the series and don’t want it ruined at all and I really think adding another one would ruin this great saga.
Have you seen Toy Story 4? Let me know what you think about the movie in the comments below.